NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A community in the Bronx is trying to come to grips with a devastating fire that left 12 people dead, including five children, Thursday night.
Families are in shock and neighbors have been left speechless after the city’s deadliest fire in decades.
Saturday they stepped up to help. Crowds gathered to donate warm clothes and other supplies to support the survivors who have been displaced.
With boxes stuffed to the brim and bags overflowing with necessities, it was humanity at its finest, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported.
PHOTOS: 12 Dead In Bronx Fire
“All that we could find that is warm and that we think we would be needing for this moment, because tragedies like this – no one planned for them, and this could happen to anybody,” said Leon Bertam, of New Rochelle.
Just two days after one of the worst fires in the city’s history, it was a true example of compassion and sympathy from people near and far.
“Toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, things that we kind of take for granted and they need it. I also went into my own closet and donated about five leather jackets,” Bronx resident Shaquan Hoke said. “I felt it was important to give back and help the people that are in need.”
The NYPD’s Community Affairs Bronx Outreach team collaborated with Saint Martin of Tours church in Belmont to make it happen, just a few blocks from the tragic scene on Prospect Avenue.
“The families and victims not only lost loved ones this terrible time of year, they lost everything. So they have to start from the beginning, and we want to be there to help them,” said Cruz Mercado.
It seemed the entire community felt that way, Roy reported. The church had a steady flow of generous people, with many items coming in from Friday night into Saturday. Volunteers were on hand to manage the large number of coats, shoes, diapers – you name it.
“When I heard that my parish and my community were coming over to help these people, I just spread the word,” Emmanuel Frias said. “People got to come together. Not just in terrible things like this, but every day.”
Officials say the worst fire in New York City in at least a quarter century was caused by a three-year-old who was playing with burners in his first floor apartment when flames broke out. His mother ran out of the apartment without shutting the door.
“It took the fire so quickly up the stairs the people had very little time to react,” Commissioner Nigro said. “You’ve seen the ads, ‘Close the door, close the door, close the door.'”
The NYPD says it has now received enough donations to help the affected families.