Longtime UWSer Still Recovering Weeks After Devastating Fire

The Patch - June 09, 2020

by Anna Quinn, Patch Staff

Aba Coleman has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. After a fire destroyed her apartment in May, she's been fighting to stay there.

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UPPER WEST SIDE, MANHATTAN — A local substitute teacher who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years is still without a home of her own after a fire destroyed her West 101st Street apartment last month.

Aba Coleman, who lived on the fifth floor of 241 West 101st St., is the latest tenant from the six-story building in need of the community's help as she recovers from the three-alarm fire, which ripped through the apartment building on May 7.

Coleman's daughter, Precious, has set up a fundraiser to help her mom get back on her feet.

"The day of the fire my mother was trapped in her apartment while waiting for FDNY. The thick black smoke rapidly filled up the apartment causing her to have an Asthma attack," Precious told Patch. "Here we are a month after the fire and our lives are still unsettled."

Since the fire — which injured seven people and took more than 100 firefighters to extinguish — Aba has been living with family in a small space, Precious said.

She is one of at least 10 other neighbors displaced from their homes, which were either destroyed by water, the flames or smoke.

For Aba, the fire and water damage collapsed her foyer and bedroom ceiling and has destroyed nearly all the pictures, clothing, toys and other possessions that made up "30 years of memories" for the Coleman family.

"The fire has destroyed all of our memories," Precious said. "After 30 years of happiness, laughter, joy the days seem so hard to navigate."

Her daughter added that Aba is also out of work as a substitute teacher given the coronavirus pandemic and that the family lost an uncle who died from the virus in April.

"While attempting to rebuild from the fire, we are also grieving," she said. "Times are incredibly hard."

The GoFundMe, which has raised nearly $400 of its $15,000 goal so far, will help repair the apartment and replace lost items. Aba is hoping to stay in the Upper West Side, where she has lived for three decades, Precious said.

Tenants who have started fundraisers also include the Scott family, Alena Williams and Anthony Trotter.

Read more on the Colemans' GoFundMe here.