The family of 21-year-old Carlos Richards, who was killed in the three-alarm fire that also killed firefighter Timothy Klein on Sunday, are asking the community for some help paying for Richards’ funeral and finding his mother a new place to live after the fire destroyed the family’s home.
“The loss we are experiencing is monumental,” wrote Chloe Richards, Carlos’ sister, on the family’s GoFundMe page. “As we try to piece together all that’s happened, we’re raising money for Carlos’s funeral expenses so we can do right by our boy. He was such a bright light in our lives — he loved everyone and everyone loved him.”
Carlos’ body was recovered from the scene of the blaze on Sunday evening after the flames were extinguished. More than 100 firefighters responded to the rapidly-spreading house fire that afternoon, and eight, in addition to Klein, were injured while battling the blaze.
The family’s home was “completely destroyed,” Chloe wrote online on Monday, and their mother lost everything. In less than 24 hours, the community has donated more than $30,000, almost hitting the fundraiser’s goal of $50,000 to pay for Richards’ funeral expenses and help his mother begin to figure out a new living situation and replace some of the things she lost in the blaze.
In an update, Chloe noted that she and her family are not ready to speak with the press about their loss, but shared some of the most important things about her little brother’s life.
“He loved horse racing, listening to music, dancing with his family, religiously watched wrestling, and travelled the world,” she said. “His smile is unforgettable and will stay with us forever. My brother is not just a casualty of a fire or a footnote in an article. He was a person who was deeply loved and loved everyone the same.”
The cause of the fire was still investigation as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a New York City Fire Department representative.
Four firefighters, including Klein, were trapped inside the home when the ceiling partially collapsed. Klein was rescued from the wreckage and taken to Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, where he died on Sunday. Three other firefighters were brought to local hospitals with burns and injuries from the collapse, according to the FDNY.
Ladder Company 170/Engine Company 257, the Canarsie firehouse where Klein worked for six years, honored the 31-year-old firefighter’s life with a bunting ceremony on Monday, hanging black-and-purple ceremonial flags on the outside of the firehouse. The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund announced on April 25 that they would be giving Klein’s parents $50,000 as they begin to recover from the loss of their son. Arrangements for Klein’s wake and funeral are pending, and will be announced on the FDNY’s social media channels when they are finalized.
The Richards family is “taking it a day at a time,” after the tragedy, and appreciate any help to take the financial concerns of the fire’s aftermath off their plates, Chloe wrote.
“He gave the greatest hugs and would send voice notes asking if we were okay and how our day was,” she said of her brother. “He was our whole life and he will be missed.”