MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – A teenager was the only member in a family of five to escape a Mount Vernon fire that took the lives of his parents, brother and sister.
Alcedo Urena, his wife, Nancy, 39, son Jesus, 21 and daughter Mariselis, 18, have been identified as the victims in the South Bond Street blaze that started shortly after 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The youngest of the group, Raymundo, 17, is being treated for injuries at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., after escaping.
The house caught fire after a car, parked just a few feet from the residence, caught fire, which then spread to the home.
Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters attempted to rescue the family from the basement, but found the door bolted shut. The flames prevented them from getting closer until it was too late.
According to officials, the two children initially escaped the fire, but were caught in the flames when they attempted to rescue their parents. There was only one way in and out of the apartment. The door was locked from both the inside and outside, Mount Vernon Fire Chief Ted Stevenson.
Stevenson said that there were eight adults and one infant living in the residence. Three of the victims died in the basement, one died from injuries at the hospital.
Three firefighters were also injured while battling the blaze, one of whom is being treated for possible burns. The fire was declared under control around 7 a.m., four hours after the initial emergency call.
Neighbors said they were awoken by sirens as emergency officials responded to the scene. Elmer Williams, 47, said that he began watching around 4:30 a.m. until the fire was completely extinguished.
“I live right around the corner, and you could see the flames visibly when you stepped out the door. I don’t want to imagine what they went through trying to get out,” he said. “I knew them, they would hang out [on the side of the house] playing cards. They’d yell, ‘Hey papi’ when I’d walk by.”
A neighbor who lives directly behind the South Bond Street home, just feet from where the car was ignited, said that the smoke filled the air over surrounding streets. She said a worker at the BP station on the corner was the one who alerted the fire department.
“The smoke was everywhere, we could smell it in our house and yard,” she said. “My friend has a video of them taking out the bodies. They were charcoal black. It was chilling.”
The fire is not considered suspicious, but fire officials are investigating what could have sparked the car. A teenager who lived upstairs and survived the fire, declined comment on Tuesday.
Another neighbor, Alex White, 28, said she didn’t know the Urenas well, but expressed her sympathy for their family.
“This is about the worst thing I could possibly imagine. They must have been so frightened,” she said. “We could see the flames and heard the sirens and fire from down the block. You don’t wish this type of thing on anyone.”
The Fire Department was again in action later in the day when there was a small fire at a Langdon Avenue home. Firefighters were called at approximately 3 p.m. and had the fire under control within an hour. There were no injuries, and limited structural damage. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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