People Taken to Hospital After Fire in the Bronx, New York.

People Taken to Hospital After Fire in the Bronx, New York.

Jose Chavez

  Yusupha Jawara noticed that someone on a certain gurney looked familiar to him, but as the commotion kept getting louder, he turned his attention back to other people seeking medical help at St. Barnabas Hospital, in the Bronx New York.

After a deadly blaze that flared up at a Bronx apartment building, Jawara, who lived nearby, rushed to the scene to help transport people to the hospital. But as Sunday wore on, the concern about his family kept growing. Neither his brother Hagi nor Isatou Jabbie, his sister in law, answered their phones.

He then thought back to when he saw the guy on the gurney with his hair and masked face, who looked exactly like his brother. He thought the man could not have been him. Surely, his brother would have been safe on the 18th floor, far from the fire that started 15 stories below.

He said on Tuesday he did not realize that the man on the gurney was his brother. But when he found his sister in law’s cellphone on the street, he knew something was amiss.

Jawara’s brother and sister in law were among the 17 people who died as they tried to escape through the smoke filled stairwells of the 19-story tower. The victims of the city’s deadliest fire in more than three decades includes eight children, three of them being from one family. They died of smoke inhalation, according to medical examiners.

Fire officials say that the fire started from a malfunctioning electric space heater, only damaging a small part of the building. But the complex was engulfed by smoke entirely.

Now the Jawara family just wants to put their deceased family members to rest.