NEW YORK - The New York City Medical Examiner said Tuesday that all 17 victims of the Bronx apartment fire were killed by smoke inhalation. Several residents remained in critical condition at local hospitals.
Among the eight children who died in Sunday's fire in Fordham Heights were three young members of the Dukuray family who tried to make it down to safety but perished in the smoke.
It was not clear if the children's parents Haja Dukuray and Haji Dukuray, originally from Gambia, survived.
"This is a very close-knit community," said Haji Dukuray, the uncle of Haja Dukuray. "We are predominantly from one town in the Gambia called Alunghare, so we are all family. Most of the people here, we are all related in one way or the other. Then in the building, we’ve been in that building for years, and so people that live in that building are members of this congregation also, so it’s like one big family."
The youngest victim was 3 years old.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said smoke from the fire ran the entire height of the building and responding firefighters found victims in stairwells on every floor of the building.
Federal safety regulators at the Consumer Product Safety Commission have opened an investigation into the space heater.
With The Associated Press.