CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Three members of the same family were killed during an early-morning three-alarm fire in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Albertha West, the 81-year-old matriarch of her family, was killed, along with her 58-year-old son Michael and 33-year-old grandson Jamiyl.
According to the FDNY, the first calls for the fire came in shortly after 4:30 a.m. Sunday at 242 Albany Avenue. The fire spread to three alarms, requiring more than 130 first responders.
Fourteen others were hurt, including a firefighter who suffered serious injuries but is expected to be okay.
The West’s next-door neighbors said the smoke woke them up, and they immediately ran outside to find the Wests’ home fully engulfed in flames.
“When I came out, the flames were from this second level, burning all the way up to the top of the house,” said neighbor Sheldon Rogers.
“Flames [were] coming from the four windows,” said neighbor Veronica CEPEDA. “I took my four kids and we just came outside.”
Neighbors had nothing but wonderful things to say about the family. Tragically, a member of the West family told PIX11 News that one of West’s other sons had just passed away last Thursday.
“Everybody knows them,” said neighbor Ricardo Castellana. “If you live around here, then you know who they are.”
“They had been in this neighborhood for a couple generations already,” said Rogers. “They were really well known around the block, and they were always really kind people.”
“Sweet lady, wonderful lady,” said Cepeda. “Every morning and every afternoon, she used to stand there saying hi and saying bye when I went to work.”
The West family home and an adjacent apartment building were completely destroyed. A member of the West family told PIX11 News that one of Ms. West’s other sons had just passed away last Thursday.
FDNY Chief of Operations John Esposito said tackling a fire of that magnitude is time-consuming, challenging, and very dangerous for firefighters.
“While we’re trying to extinguish the fire, they’re conducting searches on the floor with the heavy fire and above that,” said Esposito.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.