NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fire investigators say a fire in Queens that killed a 12-year-old boy was accidentally set by someone who was smoking in the apartment.
Investigators say the family’s smoke alarm also wasn’t working.
Thomas Curley, known as T.J., was in the home early Sunday morning with his grandfather, his mother and her boyfriend, who were all able to escape. The boy was trapped as heavy smoke poured out of his bedroom window.
“Around 4 o’clock in the morning, a man was knocking on my window. He was on the fire escape saying there was a fire. ‘You got to get out! You got to get out now!’” neighbor Bob Canavan said. “So I opened the door to the hall, but there was so much smoke. You couldn’t get out there.”
Once the fire was out, responders found the boy unconscious and unresponsive at the scene, police said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“He was excited, the tree lighting, Santa Claus – just, just sad,” said friend Luisa Guzman.
“He was just a good, all around kid,” said neighbor Louis Harris. “Everybody liked him.”
“He was a very, very nice little boy” another neighbor said. “Very nice.”
T.J.’s surviving family members all had their conditions listed as stable late Sunday.
Students at P.S. 114 in Belle Harbor where T.J. went to school are wearing blue in his honor on Monday. Blue was T.J.’s favorite color.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s office will determine the exact cause of death.