Victims recovering after historic, deadly Bronx fire

BELMONT, Bronx (WABC) -- Diana Reyes packed up what was left of her life Monday and tried not to look back at her blackened, charred apartment in the Bronx or the fire escape where she and her daughter Nayalyn desperately waited to be rescued.

"We take it one day at a time, day by day," she said. "I just feel sorry for my neighbors who died in the fire. It was very sad, and it still is."

Eyewitness News obtained exclusive video showing the charred walls of Reyes' apartment. Watch it here:
EMBED More News Videos

Exclusive video obtained by Eyewintess News shows an apartment inside the Bronx building where 13 people died in December.

One month after the fire that claimed the lives of 13 of their neighbors, the survivors are struggling to move on. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the fire started in the kitchen of a first-floor apartment, as a 3-year-old boy was playing with the burners.

Photos: Scene of deadly apartment fire in Belmont, Bronx

Catholic Charities and the nearby Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church raised thousands of dollars in relief supplies and $300,000 more in donations to support two dozen families left homeless.

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, of Catholic Charities of New York, said the families could count on his support long after their plight fades from the headlines.

"We will be with them, long term," he said.
The fire was the deadliest in New York City in the past 25 years, and among the dead was US Army Private Emmanuel Mensah, a tenant in the building who was killed while rescuing his neighbors.

Photos: Victims of the deadly Bronx fire

Local City Council member Ritchie Torres is pushing to rename a neighborhood intersection in Mensah's honor.

"He did what he was supposed to do," the victim's father, Kwabena Mensah said. "He dreamed of being a US Army soldier even before he emigrated from Africa. He got to do what he loved to do before he died."

Despite their struggle, the survivors said they are grateful.

"That's all that matters, they're alive," Diana Reyes's other daughter Joshlyn said. "If we can save a few things, that's good. But they're alive, and that's all that matters."

* More Bronx news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.