Devastated Bedford-Stuyvesant Family That Lost Tot in Blaze Left With Nothing

NY Daily News - December 25, 2010

by Jake Pearson and Rich Schapiro

The "hearbroken" family of a Brooklyn infant killed in a fast-moving house fire lost everything in the blaze, loved ones said Friday.

"There's no Christmas," said Nikita Bowen, the godmother of tragic Aniyah Vaughan. "No clothes. No gifts. No nothing.

"They're heartbroken, lost, confused, just devastated."

The 4-month-old Aniyah died late Thursday after suffering severe burns and smoke inhalation in the fire that ravaged her Bedford-Stuyvesant home.

Investigators believe a child playing with either a lighter or matches sparked the deadly blaze.

Aniyah was napping on a mattress in a ground-floor bedroom when the fire erupted about 1:30 p.m.

Her mother, Felecia Vaughan, and aunt helped eight children out of the burning five-bedroom apartment, but they were unable to reach the sweet-faced baby in time.

The smoke and flames pouring out of the four-story building on Greene Ave. initially kept the roughly 70 responding firefighters at bay.

But Firefighter Danny Insardi raced to the back of the building and smashed through two doors to reach the girl.

By the time he pulled her from the blaze, Aniyah was barely breathing. She died a short while later at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell.

"She was a beautiful and happy baby girl," said Felecia Vaughan, a nursing student who lived in the apartment with her three children.

"She was loved," added Aniyah's aunt, Kimberly Vaughan.

Their duplex apartment ruined, the Vaughan family is spending Christmas at a hotel in Brooklyn provided by the Red Cross.

They have no idea what they will do next, Bowen said.

"There's no plan. We don't know what we're going to do. We're just waiting."

Bowen said Aniyah's mom doesn't have enough money for a funeral service.

"She wants to cremate her," Bowen said. "She doesn't have the money for a service."

With Joy Keh