Three brothers, Elijah Artis, 5, Jeremiah Artis, 2, and 4-month-old Michael Turner, were killed after a fire ripped through their Bronx apartment, reports the NY Post.
The raging fire, which began around 8:00 PM Friday night, is suspected to have been started from a fallen candle that their mother, Tashika Turner, 25, lit because Con Edison Power shut off her electricity.
“They didn’t have electricity for the last couple of days. I heard there were candles burning,” said neighbor José Vasquez, who added that the utility workers who had turned off the power told him the family owed lots of money.
“Her power was turned off and the Red Cross came yesterday to help her. She refused to see them and she went to the corner store to buy candles,” said neighbor Charles Worth Ryan.
Terrified neighbors describe the blaze to the NY Post:
“I heard the kids screaming for help,” said upstairs neighbor Christopher Rodriguez, 33.
“I saw the firemen bringing out one kid. He looked like he was already dead. It was the oldest boy. His body was just black.”
A 25-year-old woman, a 4-year-old girl and a 4-month-old girl were treated for smoke inhalation and were in stable condition, cops said.
Heartbroken neighbors identified the 25-year-old woman only as Tashika, and said she was the mother of the three boys and the two injured girls.
“I ran upstairs to the second floor and I saw Tashika. She had a toddler with her. She was screaming, ‘My children, my children!’ I couldn’t get in because the flames were so high,” said downstairs neighbor Katelcia Gillard, who called 911.
“The owner made her promise not to use them at night.”
A worker at a nearby bodega said Tashika came in Friday evening and bought a 12-pack of ”Magic Light” candles for $1.19.
“I just saw the boys playing outside yesterday. They gave me a kiss and said, ‘Hey, Auntie Val,’ ” said Valerie Frazier, 47.
“I walked by their door 10 minutes before the fire happened. I heard them playing. Now I’ll never hear them playing again.”
William Sands, a neighbor and friend of the family, saw Turner lying on the ground and screaming, “My babies are dead.” He then ran up fire escape and managed to save the lives of baby Michael’s twin sister Michelle and an older sister before the flames overpowered him.
The three brothers were rushed to Lincoln Medical Center but doctors were unable to save them.
“Those are my babies …” said Sands’ girlfriend, Keisha Smith, her cheeks stained with dried tears for the neighbor kids she adored.
“William tried to get more of the children out, but the flames were too much,” she said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and Con Edison has not yet confirmed that they shut off the power.