NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The wake and funeral for four of the five victims killed in a Queens house fire last month were held Saturday.
Friends and family gathered as a long line had already formed Saturday morning outside the New Greater Bethel Ministries church in Queens Village.
It was a painful final farewell to three children and a woman killed in New York’s deadliest fire in years.
“The same God that gave you these children, he’s brought them home, and he will take care of them better than we could have,” the Reverend Al Sharpton said in front of a grieving congregation. “If you believe in him he can heal the pain you feel.”
Their white coffins were lifted overhead and out of the funeral service that brought about a thousand mourners, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
“It will stay with us for a long time. We’re just trying to keep strong and we’re praying,” family friend Derrick Dawson said.
The youngest fire victim was 2-year-old Chayse Lipford. The others lives cut short were 10-year-old Rayshawn Matthews, 16-year-old Jada Foxworth and 20-year-old Destiny Dones, who were all from the same family.
Also killed was a 17-year-old family friend, Melody Edwards. Her funeral was held separately on Wednesday, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
“These are the T-shirts of the children, and all of us family members are uniting in wearing these today,” another mourner told Carlin.
The five young victims were trapped in the attic when their Queens Village home caught fire last month.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro made it a point to being his condolences to the church in person.
“Communities grieve with us when we lose someone, and we want them to know that we grieve with them also,” he said. “It was a terrible day two weeks ago for them, and a terrible day for us.”
Balloons and candles have collected on the block in the rainy days since.
“You have to deal with it, and every day you have to say a prayer and ask God to be with us,” a family cousin named John tells 1010 WINS. “It’s tough. It’s rough.”
John and other loved ones have tried and failed to make sense of the tragic loss of life.
“Destiny’s not here, Rashawn’s not here, Chayce is not here, Jada’s not here, Melody’s not here… They’re not here anymore,” a tearful friend said outside the growing memorial.
“It’s definitely a hard time, everybody grieving, but we’re getting through,” the victims’ cousin, Charlotte Harrison said.
“Keeping them lifted up prayerfully. One day at a time,” family friend added.
Investigators have determined there were no working smoke detectors in the home when the flames broke out the afternoon of April 23. The children’s grandmother insists she was out buying them when the fire started.
Some relatives told Carlin they want the investigation to speed up, so they can get to the heart of why this happened once and for all.
Neighbors saw the chaotic scene unfold and said they could hardly watch as firefighter pulled the badly burned bodies of the children out of the wreckage.
“First thing I thought about was my grandchildren and my family. It was just rough, it was just a real hard thing to see,” the witness said.
“I just want everyone to make sure they take care of their kids and make sure all their smoke alarms are working,” grandmother DaJuana Green told CBS2.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the deadly blaze the largest loss of life in a fire since the blaze that claimed the lives of seven Jewish siblings in Midwood, Brooklyn roughly two years ago.
The family set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising $50,000 to rebuild the home, Carlin reported.