After a four-alarm fire consumed an apartment building in Fordham Heights, tragically claiming the lives of 17 people, generous members of a tight-knit Islamic community raised more than half a million dollars for the victims of the blaze.
The city’s newly elected mayor further promised to help those impacted by the tragedy and promised to give support without regard for their immigration status.
The New York Times notes that most of the 17 people, including eight children, who died during the fire on Sunday, Jan. 9, were African immigrants from Gambia.
To honor their Islamic faith, they chose to live in the complex because of its proximity to a local mosque. Outside of those Gambians that lost their lives, others who lived in the building have been displaced.
Mayor Eric Adams said he plans to give aid to the community during this season of bereavement and devastation. He stated that people should not be afraid to ask for assistance out of fear that they or someone in their family will be turned over to ICE because of their immigration status.
His administration promises not to do so and aims to work respectfully with the community, with a consideration to their cultural needs.
One of the needs, pertains to burial arrangements. The community has brought in Sheikh Musa Drammeh to facilitate the traditional Islamic services. To help with the expenses, the Gambian Youth Organization started a GoFundMe in support of the victims, which has raised in two days over $824,000.
“We want these families to get the help they need. These are people that lost everything … everything,” Salim Drammeh said to local station CBS 2. “We literally called, from our pantry list, we called a family and we had a mother stating that she lost two of her children, so we also need money to help with the burial.”
The fundraiser noted that many of the deceased were affiliated with the organization and others, outside of the 17, “have sustained life-threatening injuries.”
In addition to the mayor, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Sunday night that she will also support the victims. She remarked, “When I prepare my budget this week, I’m going to establish a victims compensation fund for the individuals I just sat with and said I will not forget you.”
“There’ll be money to help them find new housing, for burial costs, for whatever they need. We’ll take care of them because that’s what we do here in the State of New York,” she continued. “We are here for the Bronx and we’re here for anyone who needs us.”
At a press conference with the mayor, Sen. Chuck Schumer after thanking the firefighters who “rushed to danger,” noted that on the federal level they will do “whatever” they can to support survivors and those who are displaced.
The Bronx fire is one of the deadliest fires to happen in the Bronx in over 30 years. It comes in second after the March 1990 arson of the Happy Land Social Club that claimed the lives of 87 people.
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