NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – A 9-year-old boy was killed and nearly a dozen others were hospitalized when a fire broke out early Wednesday morning at a house in Queens.
Police said the fire spread from basements to upper floors, trapping victims inside.
READ MORE: Ida Tracking: Tornado Watch issued for parts of New Jersey
As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported, the little boy’s family had just moved into the basement unit on Tuesday night. They were charging an electric scooter battery near the child’s bedroom when it caught fire.
Grief, anger and confusion enveloped the Ozone Park block as firefighters rescued families from the raging flames. Parents hugged their children after learning that 9-year-old Remi Miguel Gomez Hernandez lost his life inside.
Humberto Gilbert described the child’s frantic calls for help in Spanish. Gilbert was helping the family move into their new home when an explosion rocked the apartment.
“Mum said she could hear the child screaming, ‘Mami help me! Mami help me! ‘ He told CBS2 in Spanish.
Gilbert said the mother desperately tried to save him. She must have sent him to sleep early that night and was agonized upon realizing he was trapped in her room.
“We tried to go back three times to pick up the child, but we couldn’t because the fire, smoke and heat wouldn’t allow us,” Gilbert said.
READ MORE: TIMELINE: When Ida will impact the tri-state with heavy rains and flooding
He said he, the child’s parents and another brother escaped through a backdoor.
Firefighters arrived and took 13 people out of the 102nd Road building near Liberty Avenue, but they couldn’t reach the little boy in time.
Firefighters searched the burnt rubble to trace what started the blaze.
Commissioner Daniel Nigro said charging the electric scooter battery caused the explosion the family heard.
“These batteries are known to overheat, to explode. People fall asleep – they take a long time to charge, so they will charge them overnight, and like this the boy wakes up and there is no way out, ”he said. he declares.
The commissioner said the batteries are proving to be an extreme danger throughout the city. Since last August, there have been 56 fires caused by these batteries, and this is the third fatal incident.
The Ministry of Buildings was on site, investigating whether the unit could have been an illegal conversion.
NO MORE NEWS: “Be careful:” New York City braces for potential flash flooding of Ida’s remains
Christina Fan of CBS2 contributed to this report.