A 12-year-old boy and his grandfather were killed in a fast-moving building fire in East Flatbush early Monday morning, fire officials said.
Firefights pulled the two victims, as well as the boy’s 82-year-old grandmother and 30-year-old mother, from a smoke-filled sixth floor apartment at 30 Linden Blvd between Bedford and Flatbush avenues at about 2 am.
First responders rushed the family to Kings County Hospital, but only the mother and grandmother survived. The elderly woman was in critical condition, and the woman suffered from smoke inhalation but was in stable condition as of Monday morning.
Five firefighters were also injured during the frantic rescue, though none were considered serious, according to authorities.
Officials said the fire broke out at 1:54 am. Upon arrival, firefighters saw heavy smoke billowing from the top floor apartment windows. First responders ran up to the floor, where they saw fire blazing in a hallway and in the bedroom where the boy had been sleeping.
Firefighters broke down the door and crawled into the apartment where they found the three adults and one child.
Authorities said the rescue was made more difficult by piles of belongings stacked in the hallways between rooms, preventing firefighters from easily rescuing that victims — a phenomenon that’s known as a “Collyer’s Mansion.”
Neighbors said that the fire erupted very quickly suddenly.
“People were having a barbecue and were just heading upstairs and then this happened,” said Jay Jeun, a resident who lives on the same floor whose girlfriend received cuts on her arm from falling glass.
Jeun said he was asleep when the fire started and was awoken by smoke coming from the windows.
“They were a sweet family — originally from Haiti,” he said of the victims. “You would say hello in the hallway. The little kid would always volunteer to help you with packages when you went shopping.”
Corine Conde, a 22-year resident who lived across from the family, said she saw the smoke billowing out of their apartment.
“I was on the phone when I heard some noise and looked out my window and thought we had a fire in our apartment, but then I realize there’s a fire down the hall,” she said. “I opened the door and the whole hallway was full of smoke — I couldn’t see a thing, but I ran to the stairs to get out. I feel so bad for my neighbors, they were nice people.”
Fire marshals were on the scene early trying to determine the cause of the fire.
The cause is still under investigation, officials said, and it remains unclear whether the apartment had working smoke detectors.
This story first appeared on AMNY.com.