NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An early Sunday morning house fire claimed the life of an 8-year-old boy in Queens.
First responders said they arrived at the home on 160th Street near 140th Avenue just before 2:30 a.m. The flames quickly consumed the second floor of the house.
Jermaine Thomas was outside the Springfield Gardens home where Tighani Jones died.
Thomas said he’s a close family friend and that the boy was close to Thomas’ own children.
“It’s a very sad, sad, sad day,” Thomas said, adding about Tighani, “(He was) very athletic, liked sports. Soccer was his favorite.”
In a video posted on social media, Tighani is seen on a soccer field. He lived in the-now destroyed home with his mother, older brothers and some members of his mothers’ extended family, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
In grainy home surveillance video, from across and down the street, a sudden flaring is seen, as flames grew around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Neighbors ran outside.
Another neighbor named “Justin” described the scene as “a big ball of flames shooting out the window and the mother screaming outside saying ‘My baby’s inside! Help me!'”
By the time rescuers got to Tighani it was too late.
“Right there on the roof, they tried to resuscitate him,” Justin said.
“To lose a kid and for me to witness that was horrible,” neighbor Priscilla Carrow added.
Carrow took Tighani’s two older brothers, 17 and 13 years old, into her home. The older one had jumped from the top floor and was bleeding.
“We gave them water. We went in there and got clothes for them,” she said.
Paramedics came and took them and other survivors, including their mother, to area hospitals. There were six patients total.
Tighani’s father works as a barber and lives elsewhere, in Rosedale.
Police made the heartbreaking phone call to him.
“He’s traumatized right now,” Thomas said.
“My heart goes out for their loss,” another neighbor added.
As investigators were looking into the cause of the blaze, representatives with the American Red Cross were going door to door. Delivering life-saving tips and free smoke detectors was Joe Spaccarelli, director of the Home Fire Program.
“(People must) know their escape routes and make sure they have working smoke alarms. That’s the key piece in this,” Spaccarelli cautioned.
Fire investigators announced late Sunday that the fire was caused by a candle. They said the family had a smoke detector, but it was not working.