Sad litany of loss: The 17 victims of the devastating fire in the Bronx building were brothers, sisters, parents

The 17 Bronx residents who died in New York City’s deadliest fire in three decades were many things before their lives were tragically cut short: young and old. Immigrants from a small village in the Gambia, another generation born in the United States.

Brothers, uncles, sisters, parents. All gone.

The smallest victim was 2-year-old Ousmane Konteh, who found an apartment on the top floor of the 19-story Bronx high-rise on E. 181st St. near Tiebout Ave. visited with an aunt when the smoky fire broke out this year. last Sunday.

His aunt, Fatoumata Tunkara, tried to escape the flames and thick smoke by running down the stairs to safety, but was instead killed along with Ousmane and her own 6-year-old son.

“We are heartbroken at the moment,” said Yahya Sankanu, uncle of little Ousmane and cousin of Tunkara. “We don’t know what to do.”

Fatoumata Tunkara, 43, died with her son Omar Jambang and her cousin, leaving behind her four other children, ages 9 to 19. Tunkara was just visiting a friend in the building with her son and nephew in tow when they were trapped by the fire and killed.

Sankanu and his sister Amie were at home in their native Gambia when the fatal fire swept through the building. Amie lived in the burned-down building and doesn’t know if her apartment is still habitable.

“This is so sad,” said Amie Sankanu, who began to sob over her lost relatives.

Ousmane’s mother was at work when the deadly fire swept through the Twin Parks North West building, and she later arrived at the blaze to find that the youngest of her four children was gone.

The Dukuray family, immigrants from Gambia, died together in the tragedy: both parents and their three children. They were identified as Patriarch Haji, 49, and his wife Haja, 37, along with 12-year-old Mustapha, 11-year-old Miriam and their 5-year-old sibling Fatoumata.

The fire also claimed four members of another family, a mother and three of her children. Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, died along with daughter Fatoumala, 21, and Aisha, 19, as well as 12-year-old son Muhummed – who was celebrating his last birthday just the day before the raging fire.

Family patriarch Ishak Drummond, who had yet to see the bodies of his loved ones on Wednesday, recalled his last phone call with the youngster from his job in Ohio, with relatives laughing in the background.

Drummond asked if Muhammed wanted him to come home for the party.

“He said, ‘That’s okay, Dad, it’s okay, you just have to pray for us,'” the father recalled.

Drummond said his 19-year-old son Jacob, who escaped the flames, was recovering at a local hospital.

“They took a tube out of his mouth and he talks,” he said. “He’s doing better.”

A married couple were also among the dead, with Hagi Jawara, 47, and wife Isatou Jabbie, 31, overwhelmed by the suffocating smoke in an 18th-floor stairwell, according to the man’s brother.

Yusupha Jawara recalls following his brother to the US from Banjul, the capital of their native Gambia, in 2006. He last saw his brother undergo CPR outside the building, although it took him a day to realize that the familiar face actually belonged to Hagi.

The sibling searched local hospitals and called government agencies after seeing the victim “with some features that resembled my brother,” only to find out it was Hagi – with his dying wife receiving help nearby.

When asked Wednesday if he was still crying, Yusupha simply replied, “I don’t know when I’m going to stop.”

Sera Janneh, who fled the flames from their sixth-floor apartment with her sister and father, was killed when she was separated from her father when the lights in the building went out and the dark smoke enveloped them. Janneh, 27, died after reaching the fourth floor.

“She was just a really positive, uplifting, generous person,” her best friend Breanna Elleston recalled Wednesday. “Always looking for people above herself… She was a very, very good friend.”

Elleston started to cry as she thought about attending her friend’s funeral.

“She’ll never be there for me again,” she said. “She was such a special person in my life and there is no one like her on this planet at all.”

The last two victims were among the youngest: Seydou Toure, 12, and Haouwa Mahamadou, his 5-year-old sister. Both were commemorated Wednesday at the first funeral of the 17 victims, as family and friends took to the streets outside a mosque in Harlem before the service.

A relative said their mother left them with an adult relative in their apartment for five minutes to buy a loaf of bread, while the fire broke out in an adjacent second-floor duplex before she could return.

Her two other children were hospitalized along with the uncle who was in the apartment when the fire started, the relative said before the victims were buried in a Muslim cemetery in New Jersey.


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