NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A fire in Washington Heights claimed the life of a little boy and left his grandmother, 54, hospitalized in critical condition.
Neighbors told CBS2’s Thalia Perez the victim was the building super’s son, 7-year-old Robert Resto.READ MORE: MLB Owners Impose Lockout After CBA Expires
“It’s a nightmare. It’s really like something that all parents fear,” neighbor Beatriz Ureña said.
The fire started in the basement apartment unit of a six-story complex on West 178th Street near Broadway around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
The Department of Buildings deems the space an “illegally converted basement apartment.”
Video shows the block was enveloped in smoke when firetrucks arrived, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
They say when they arrived, the 7-year-old was found in the basement with severe body trauma and couldn’t be saved.
Distraught families, running out with their kids, covered in blankets, were heartbroken to learn a child lost his life.READ MORE: Federal Hearing Focused On Conditions At Rikers Island
“We just heard firetrucks come, and then it was like one, and then it was like, it reached all around the corner to the front of my building. You could just smell, almost like a short circuit kind of burn,” one woman said.
Three of the boy’s family members and a firefighter suffered minor injuries.
It took almost two hours and more than 70 firefighters to get the blaze under control. It was contained to the rear basement apartment.
Julio Mejia lives on the second floor and is devastated. He says he and his wife were close to the family, who are from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
“For me, it was like he was my grandchild,” he said in Spanish.
Firefighters have determined that the fire was accidental and caused by electrical wiring and an overloaded power strip. Officials also say there was an operating fire alarm in the apartment, but it wasn’t enough to get everyone out in time.
Firefighters say they arrived in under five minutes after receiving the 911 call.MORE NEWS: First U.S. Case Of Omicron Variant Detected In California
CBS2’s Thalia Perez contributed to this report. Editor’s note: This story was first published Oct. 30.