ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Three people – including two young children – were killed Monday when a fire ripped through their home in Orange, New Jersey.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, the boys’ mother and grandmother risked their lives to save them, but could not.
Charred remains were all that was left of the house on High Street late Monday afternoon. A family friend said 10 people were asleep inside the home when the fire broke out around 5 a.m. Monday, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
Part of the house collapsed in the blaze that also burned a neighboring home.
Chante May said her 52-year-old uncle – Maurice May, also known as Mustafa – and his two little nephews – Nashawn and Nayon, ages 2 and 7 – died in the fire. They had been asleep on the third floor.
May fears she also would’ve lost her grandmother, who went back into the house to try to save the children, if it hadn’t been for some brave neighbors.
“It took them to go in there and get my grandmother out, not the fire department. It took a man, a stranger, to come and go in the house and get my grandmother out,” May said. “My grandmother wound up going back in there to go save her grandkids and her son.”
Chante May’s sister, Star, said her grandmother woke everyone up and tried to put the fire out with the help of the boys’ mother.
“She went to go basically, like, get her babies out,” Chante May said. “But my cousin needed to get her babies like any mother would do.”
The Mays’ grandmother suffered severe burns. Other relatives were also injured.
Chante May said her cousins’ hands and bodies were burnt so badly that she could not grab her two boys.
Chante and Star May were raised in the home, but did not currently reside there. The family has lived in town for more than 40 years.
The home is known to many as Miss May’s house.
“Cookouts, birthday parties, celebrations — my great grandmother was good to everyone,” said Chante May. “Miss May made sure she gave anybody – anybody a place to stay.”
The Mays said they are frustrated with the response from firefighters.
“Me and my husband tried to go in through the back. When we got here, we went back there, it wasn’t no firefighters back there; it wasn’t no water hose spraying,” said Chante May. “We got to go in there and get them.”
“They could’ve saved my two little cousins, they could’ve saved them, but they didn’t try hard enough,” Star May said. “They said it was too much.”
What was left of the home was very unstable and crews were taking it apart, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
“That’s our life right there,” Chante May said.
CBS2 reached out to the Orange Fire Department to ask about the response time and whether they went into the house, and if not, why not. The fire department said the blaze was still under investigation.
Officials with the Essex County prosecutor’s office were also sent to the scene.
The cause of the fire was unknown late Monday.