The grieving father of a woman killed in the Bronx apartment fire on Sunday recounted the moment he was separated from his daughter while his wife and other children struggled to escape the smoke.

Tijan Janneh, 64, told DailyMail.com about the terrifying moment he ventured outside the 6C apartment of the Twin Park North West complex and lost sight of his 27-year-old daughter Sera Janneh.

In the aftermath of the fire, Tijan and his heartbroken wife called hospitals trying to locate Sera, who had been rushed to receive medical care in critical condition amid the chaos. Twenty-four hours later, the Janneh family learned about Sera’s death.   

‘She was a nice woman. She was very caring, helping – she listened to us,’ the distraught father-of-seven said of his daughter, who is among 17 people killed in the blaze. More than 50 other people were injured.

‘When the fire broke [out], I’m the one who opened the door to the alarm sounding,’ he explained. ‘It was 10 minutes to 11 in the morning…I [saw] the smoke. Then I called everybody [to come outside]. She was telling me ”Maybe we can stay,” but we [saw] people coming down and I said ”Let’s go. We are all going.”’

Tijan, his wife and five of his children who still live with them managed to get to the fourth floor but were sent back in by firefighters who were trying to control the flames and dissipate the smoke in the hallways in order to ensure a safe evacuation. 

‘The smoke was coming, heavy. We tried to turn back to walk. All the lights [were] off in the building,’ Tijan said.  

Tijan said he and his family left the apartment thinking they would have a better chance to escape the flames. 

‘We had no idea. When we opened the door, we saw everybody on the floor. So everyone was trying to get [out], so we also decided to get [out].’ 

Sera Janneh's father told DailyMail on Tuesday that the late  27-year-old (pictured) was very caring

Sera Janneh's father told DailyMail on Tuesday that the late  27-year-old (pictured) was very caring

Sera Janneh’s father told DailyMail on Tuesday that the late  27-year-old (pictured) was very caring

Tijan Janneh, 64 (pictured), confirmed the death of his 27-year-old daughter Sera Janneh to Dailymail.com

Tijan Janneh, 64 (pictured), confirmed the death of his 27-year-old daughter Sera Janneh to Dailymail.com

Tijan Janneh, 64 (pictured), confirmed the death of his 27-year-old daughter Sera Janneh to Dailymail.com

Firefighters told Tijan and other people in the hallways to return to their apartments until the smoke was controlled and they could leave the building safely, he said.

‘I was crawling – to go up – because I could not see nothing. When [I saw] the fire department… somebody pushed me and said ”go go,”’ he recalled. 

What followed were unimaginable moments of anguish. His wife and some of his children did not make it back to the apartment but were eventually evacuated by firefighters. 

He sheltered inside his apartment with some of his children and waited for instructions from the fire crew. 

His door was closed this time so the smoke wouldn’t get inside, Tijan said. Forty-five minutes later, they were told it was safe to leave.  

‘The fire department came, banged on the door and I said ”Where [are they]?” And they said ”They’re all out. They’re ok.” I said ”Ok, when they’re ok, I’m good,”’ Tijan told DailyMail.com.   

But the scene Tijan found downstairs was beyond heartbreaking. He was met by his inconsolable wife and was told by the fire department that two of his daughters had been taken to hospitals due to smoke inhalation. 

One of them was sent to a hospital in Manhattan, while Sera was rushed in critical condition to another hospital. 

Tijan said that for an entire day, they were not sure where she had been taken. When they found out where Sera was, they learned she had passed away.  

Haja Dukureh, 37

Haja Dukureh, 37

Haji Dukuray, 49

Haji Dukuray, 49

Parents Haja Dukureh, 37, and Haji Dukuray, 49 and their children were killed in the fire 

Toure Seydou, 12

Toure Seydou, 12

Mustafa Dukureh, 12

Mustafa Dukureh, 12

Toure Seydou, 12, (left) and Mustafa Dukureh, 12, (right) died in the fire 

Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, was also killed in the fire – her grieving sister Koumba told DailyMail.com – along with her three children: daughters Fatoumala, 21, and Nyumaaisha, 19, and son Mohammed, 12.  

Parents Haja Dukureh, 37, and Haji Dukary, 49 and their children Mariam Dukureh, 11, Mustafa Dukureh, 12 and Fatoumata Dukureh, 5, also died.

Other fatal victims have been identified as Fatoumata Tunkara, 43, Toure Seydou, 12, Omar Jambang, 6, and Hawa Mahamdou, 5.  

Additionally, a husband and wife have been named as victims of the blaze.

The deaths of Hagi Jawara, 41, and his wife Isatou Jabbie, 31, were confirmed Monday evening by Hagi’s brother, Yusupha Jawara.

Haouwa Mahamadou, aged five, and Ousmane Konteh, aged just two, have also been named among the dead, reports the NY Post, with the latter being the youngest of all the victims.  

Other family members and friends have shared photos of their loved ones online, in a desperate bid to track them down after Sunday’s blaze at the Twin Parks North West Complex in the New York borough, which was triggered by a space heater.  

Tijan told DailyMail.com that the heating in the building was not ideal, and that he, as well as the family whose apartment the fire originated at, owned a space heater ‘to keep his children warm.’ 

‘That’s the problem…because the heating in the building is not enough,’ he said. 

A New York City official, who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity, revealed fire marshals suspect the space heater had been running uninterrupted for multiple days. According to a list of resident maintenance requests shared online, building received at least four complaints last year of units being without heat. It is unclear if Unit 3N was having an issue with heat.   

Jose Dineo, who lives in the third floor with his three children, told DailyMail.com Tuesday that space heaters are necessary in the winter because the ‘building didn’t have good heat’.

‘I feel good with the heat in my apartment,’ Dineo, 40, said. ‘We have an electric heater because before the building didn’t have good heat.’  

‘Five years back the heat doesn’t work well. After three years they put in a new boiler. We feel good with the heat but still sometimes, on days like today, definitely we need to use an extra heater.’   

Fatoumata Drammeh (pictured), 50, was killed in the fire, her sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, who said that she and her family were 'such lovely people'

Fatoumata Drammeh (pictured), 50, was killed in the fire, her sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, who said that she and her family were 'such lovely people'

Fatoumata Drammeh's daughter Fatoumala, 21, was also killed in the fire, Fatoumala's aunt Koumba Drammeh told DailyMail.com

Fatoumata Drammeh's daughter Fatoumala, 21, was also killed in the fire, Fatoumala's aunt Koumba Drammeh told DailyMail.com

Fatoumata Drammeh (pictured), 50, was killed in the fire, her sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, who said that she and her family were ‘such lovely people’

Fatoumata's 12-year-old son Muhammad was the youngest member of the family to lose his life in the Bronx apartment building fire

Fatoumata's 12-year-old son Muhammad was the youngest member of the family to lose his life in the Bronx apartment building fire

Aisha Drammeh, 19, is one of the several people still missing after the Bronx apartment fire that has already claimed the lives of 17 people

Aisha Drammeh, 19, is one of the several people still missing after the Bronx apartment fire that has already claimed the lives of 17 people

Fatoumata’s 12-year-old son Muhammad was the youngest member of the family to lose his life in the Bronx apartment building fire

Investigators believe the fire was started by one of several space heaters in a third-floor unit after it was left running uninterrupted for days. Smoke then spread throughout the complex after the apartment’s entry door failed to automatically close. 

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro claimed a door in the stairwell – which is meant to be used as an emergency exit – also failed to close, furthering the problem. 

‘The stairwell was very dangerous as the door was left open and some of the floors — certainly on 15 — the door was open from the stairs to the hall and the 15th floor became quite untenable,’ Nigro said.    

‘They’re such a nice people, they’re so lovely,’ Koumba Drammeh said of her sister, nieces and nephews. ‘We’re gonna miss them a lot.’  

Haji Dukuray, of Delaware, confirmed Monday the deaths of his 49-year-old nephew, who bares the same name, his wife and their three children.

Dukuray told New York Daily News is in contact with family in Gambia and working to determine next steps: ‘The first step of closure for us is trying to retrieve the bodies.’

‘In some cases we will bury the dead here. In some cases, we may fly them back to The Gambia,’ he added.  

Other family members and friends have shared photos of their loved ones online, in a desperate bid to track them down after Sunday’s blaze at the Twin Parks North West Complex in the New York borough, which was triggered by a space heater.  

Hagi Jawara, 41, the wife of Jabbie, has been confirmed dead Monday by Hagi's brother, Yusupha

Hagi Jawara, 41, the wife of Jabbie, has been confirmed dead Monday by Hagi's brother, Yusupha

Isatou Jabbie, a relative of Yusupha Jawara, in an undated photo. Jawara says she and her husband have died after the deadly Bronx fire on Sunday

Isatou Jabbie, a relative of Yusupha Jawara, in an undated photo. Jawara says she and her husband have died after the deadly Bronx fire on Sunday

Isatou Jabbie, 31, and husband Hagi Jawara, 41, were confirmed dead Monday after the Bronx apartment building fire by Jawara’s brother Yusupha

Friends posted photos on Instagram stories asking for the whereabouts of the Drammeh family - mother Fatou and her daughter, Aisha and son, Muhammad - who have been missing since the fire

Friends posted photos on Instagram stories asking for the whereabouts of the Drammeh family - mother Fatou and her daughter, Aisha and son, Muhammad - who have been missing since the fire

Friends posted photos on Instagram stories asking for the whereabouts of the Drammeh family – mother Fatou and her daughter, Aisha and son, Muhammad – who have been missing since the fire

Family members and neighbors are continuing to desperately search for any evidence of their missing relatives and friends in the wake of the apartment fire that was set after a faulty space heater set it alight and tore through the Bronx block killing eight children and nine adults. 

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were reported missing after having been unaccounted for after residents evacuated the apartment building. 

Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson, a resident, at the time of the fire. 

Her cousin, Lonell Sessoms, confirmed on Facebook that Anderson has since been found at an area hospital. She is ‘intubated but alive’.

It is unclear if Thompson has yet been found.  

The list of the missing was announced as an immigrant father has revealed he leaped through flames to save his eight children. 

The death toll, originally reported as 19, was revised downwards to 17 on Monday. Addressing the reduced death toll, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said patients had been taken to seven different hospitals in the city, which led to ‘a bit of a double count’. 

Fire experts, attributing smoke to the fatalities, believe a self-closing door in the Twin Parks North West complex may have malfunctioned, allowing the smoke to spread through the building.

‘The fire was contained to the hallway just outside this two-story apartment, but the smoke travelled throughout the building and the smoke is what caused the deaths and the serious injuries,’ Nigro said during a press conference Monday.  

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were both in the apartment building during the fire and reported missing. Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson at the time of the fire. She has been found. Thompson's whereabouts remain unknown

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were both in the apartment building during the fire and reported missing. Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson at the time of the fire. She has been found. Thompson's whereabouts remain unknown

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were both in the apartment building during the fire and reported missing. Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson at the time of the fire. She has been found. Thompson’s whereabouts remain unknown

Fire experts said the design of a nearly 50-year-old Bronx building and its older fire safety features likely contributed to the a blaze caused by a faulty space heater turning the complex into a smoke-filled chimney on Sunday morning

Exclusive photographs taken by DailyMail.com reveal what remains of the family unit after the fire engulfed their duplex apartment at 333 East 181st Street, at 11am on Sunday.     

Mamadou Wague, who lived in Unit 3N with his wife and children, recalled how he was woken by his children screaming ‘fire’ and then found his eight-year-old daughter, Nafisha, screaming and trapped on a burning mattress in her bedroom.

‘I just grab her and run,’ the west African immigrant told the New York Times. ‘I didn’t think about anything except getting her out.’ 

Wague, 47, pulled his daughter from the burning bed, suffering burns to his lips and nose, and escaped the unit with his family. Nafisha sustained burns but is alive.

Fire Marshals ruled the fire ‘accidental,’ noting that it was caused by a malfunctioning space heater and that a ‘smoke alarm was present and operational’.  

Officials believe the fire spread so rapidly because Mr Wague left his apartment door open as he fled for his life with his kids. 

Mamadou Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: 'One of the kids said, ‘"Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”'

Mamadou Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: 'One of the kids said, ‘"Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”'

Mamadou Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: ‘One of the kids said, ‘”Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”’

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City’s worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Mayor Eric Adams said there may have been a ‘maintenance issue,’ as it was supposed to close automatically. He told CNN: ‘The doors in the building did have self-closing mechanisms. We are just looking at that specific door.’

However, Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association Union, said the 49-year-old building was poorly equipped to deal with a fire.  

‘It was at a building that was built under federal guidelines way back when, so it’s not up to New York City fire codes,’ he told the New York Daily News

It has no fire escapes and stairwells meant to be used as emergency exits quickly filled with smoke, along with floors where stairwell doors were left open.   

Large, new apartment buildings in the city are required to have sprinkler systems and interior doors that swing shut automatically to contain smoke and deprive fires of oxygen, however those rules don’t apply to older buildings.

Many residents ignored the fire alarms when they went off on Sunday because they sound so frequently as false alarms. 

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had 'no heat'

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had 'no heat'

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had ‘no heat’

‘First we heard the fire alarm go off. Numerous times,’ said Michael Joseph, 32, who lived on the sixth floor with his uncle. But we didn’t think nothing of it, because normally people in the building, they smoke and tend to set it off. So we thought it was probably just people playing.’  

The apartment complex was purchased for $24,675,000 in 2020 by a group of investors, including Camber Property Group. Rick Gropper, a co-founder and principal at Camber, was one of the nearly 800 individuals named last month to the new mayor’s transition team.    

Pope Francis offered his condolences Monday to the victims of the ‘devastating’ apartment fire. In a telegram sent to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan he offered ‘heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness’ to those affected by the blaze. 

The five-alarm blaze is New York City’s deadliest in three decades. President Joe Biden, speaking with Mayor Adams Monday, offered his ‘heartfelt condolences and support’ to the victims, city leaders and residents. Biden told the mayor any resources the city needs will be made available.

Although the flames only damaged a small portion of the building, smoke escaped through the Wague family’s open door and flooded the stairwells – the only method of escape as the building was too tall for fire escapes – with ash.  

Some people could not escape because of the volume of smoke, while others became incapacitated as they tried to flee. Several residents said the fire alarms in the building are always going off so they ignored them.

While there have not been any major building violations or complaints listed against the building, according to city building records, however it was reportedly not up to code.

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that 'very heavy' fire and smoke 'extended the entire height of the building'

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that 'very heavy' fire and smoke 'extended the entire height of the building'

Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that ‘very heavy’ fire and smoke ‘extended the entire height of the building’ and confirmed that a space heater caused the blaze. Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

Some of the items that caught on fire in apartment 3N

Some of the items that caught on fire in apartment 3N

Some of the items that caught on fire in apartment 3N

Public records show the building has open violations for cockroach and mouse infestations, lead paint and water leaks, however no structural violations were listed. 

The New York Post reported there were more than two dozen violations and complaints at the building since 2013 – despite $25 million in state loans for repairs. 

The Twin Parks North West complex is classified as a D1 building, according to Street Easy. The classification designates the complex as an elevator apartment building that is semi-fireproof and without stores. 

D1 buildings can be found in all five boroughs of New York City and account for about 29 percent of complexes in the Bronx, Property Shark reported. 

Investigators determined a malfunctioning electric space heater started the fire in the 19-story building, leaving victims on ‘every floor.’ 

Eight children were among at least 17 people killed and 63 injured in Sunday’s inferno. Dozens of residents were hospitalized, several in critical condition, and doctors were continuing efforts to save victims live on Monday.

The mayor said it’s likely the death toll could rise.

‘We pray to God that they’ll be able to pull through,’ Mayor Adams said during a CNN interview Monday morning.

At least 200 firefighters responded to the scene, some arriving within minutes of the initial call for help. As they entered the building, the first responders were met with flames in the hallway.  

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The Wague family's apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The Wague family's apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The Wague family’s apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The blaze is unit 3N was caused by a faulty space heater

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said an investigation was underway to determine how the fire spread and whether anything could have been done to prevent or contain the blaze. 

Adams said it appears the smoke spread due to a door that was supposed to automatically close being open.

‘There may have been a maintenance issue with this door. And that is going to be part of the .. ongoing investigation,’ Adams said on Good Morning America.  

The mayor said the fire crews continued rescue measures even after running out of oxygen.

‘Their oxygen tanks were empty and they still pushed through the smoke,’ he explained, noting that  icy conditions made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blaze.

Jay Jimenez, who lives in the building next door, said he went into the building to help rescue trapped residents. He said he helped ‘a lot’ of people make it to safety, but also recalled the horrifying moments he carried deceased victims out of the building.

‘I was just focused on the mission,’ Jimenez, 35, told DailyMail.com on Monday. He said he helped the fire department as they brought victims to the lobby: ‘I pulled them out, while they bring them through the stairs and out the front lobby and I just took them by the knees and brought them all the way outside.’ 

He added: ‘I couldn’t sleep last night – I haven’t slept. I feel sad. I got kids. I saw a three-year-old completely dead and that’s in my mind. I am not the same. It’s really sad.’ Jimenez also applauded the ‘hero’ first responders who risked their lives to help the trapped residents.

Source: dailymail

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