A grandmother and the baby granddaughter she was minding were among 12 people killed in the worst blaze in New York City in more than a quarter-century.
Christine Batiz was at work Thursday when she received a panicked phone call from her mother, Maria Batiz, who was looking after her 8-month-old daughter at their Bronx apartment.
"She told me there was a fire in the building and she was trapped. I never heard from her again,” Christine Batiz wrote on a GoFundMe page created to help with funeral arrangements.
Christine Batiz learned about 1 a.m. that her daughter and mother were killed.
“I lost my angel baby and my best friend; my mother. The lady who birthed and would do anything for me is gone. I lost everything in a matter of minutes … I am now making funeral arrangements,” she wrote.
“My niece was telling her, ‘Get out! What are you doing?’” Batiz’s brother, Fernando Batiz, told the newspaper. “I guess [Maria] was hysterical, and she got trapped. She was scared. She said, ‘We’re going to die in here!’”
Four members of a separate family were also among those killed.
Karen Francis, 37, her daughters Charmela Francis, 7, and Kylie Francis, 2, as well as Francis's niece Shantay Young, 19, died in the devastating fire.
After learning that her daughter and sister’s family were caught in the fire, Williams raced to Jacobi Medical Center. There, she learned that many members of her family died.
“I feel so empty … so lost,” Williams told the paper. “Standing right here my soul is gone.”
Williams said her brother-in-law, Francis Holt, suffered serious burns in the five-alarm fire. Her other sister, Shevan Williams, escaped the fire through her first-floor apartment.
“It’s hard to take — it’s really, really hard to take. It’s really hard,” she told the paper.
Authorities believe the fire was caused by a 3-year-old child playing with a stove inside the building.
City officials will collect coats and clothing for those affected by the fire at the Church of Saint Martin of Tours at 2239 Crotona Ave. between E. 182nd St. and Garden Ave. in the Bronx. Those able to donate items can drop them off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 30 and Sun., Dec. 31, the NYPD said.