NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Funerals will be held in the days ahead for many of the 17 victims of the Bronx high-rise fire.
A funeral prayer will be held on Sunday for 15 of the 17 victims.
As restoration work continues on the building, numerous survivors have vowed not to move back, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Thursday.
There was a bright moment during a dark week as balloons were released from the memorial wall at the school adjacent to the fire scene. With each photo at the memorial came countless tears.
“I cried so much that it hurt,” said Dayshawn Taylor. “You just can’t eat and swallow and digest. Something that will never be the same.”
Nine victims were adults, full of experience and wisdom. Eight were young, full of promise and hope.
“Speechless. I wish this would have never happened,” said Edwin Rivera.
A group of young men at the memorial said they were friends with 12-year-old Seydou Toure.
“I just know he was trying to save his sister, but then they got stuck,” said Levwin Torres.
Levwin said his best friend Seydou died a hero. He attempted to get his 5-year-old sister to safety, but they couldn’t escape the thick black smoke. Like all the victims, they both died of smoke inhalation.
Seydou’s classmates at the Angelo Patri Middle School wore homemade tributes around their necks, CBS2’s John Dias reported.
“Keeping him inside your heart every day. That he died, it’s hard,” said Edwin Torres.
“How do you think your friend would want you to carry on in his memory?” Aiello asked.
“Just show love. Stay positive, never think negative. He always had a smile on his face,” said Nasir Frederick.
The entire school is still reeling.
“It’s devastating. You get a little numb, because you think, how could something like this happen,” said teacher Craig Roberts.
Relatives are mourning the loss of the entire Dukureh family – loving parents, and their three children.
The suffocating smoke also killed 6-year-old Omar Jambang, and his loving mother, Fatoumata Tunkara. Her cousin said she was just visiting the building.
“My heart is broken completely,” said Ansumana Susso, whose cousin died in the fire. “I didn’t get to say goodbye. So that hurts my feelings.”
Cleanup and restoration continued Thursday at the building. Windows broken during the blaze were boarded up.
Gabriela Juarez, 18, watched from across the street. She shared chilling videos from her view on the 9th floor during Sunday’s horror.
Juarez said her family has decided to relocate.
“I can’t go into the building. I tried, I went I think Tuesday. I had a panic attack when I went upstairs to my house. My own home, I can’t even go home. It’s just… I’m like, I can’t,” said Juarez.
The fire displaced hundreds of people who are now spending a fifth night out of the building. Activists urged all who need assistance to come forward without fear.
“We are hearing of families whose names are not on the lease, but yet they live in the building. There are issues that we are trying to address,” said Muhammad Mardeh of the African Advisory Counsil.
Travel and other issues related to burial are being addressed since many of the victims’ relatives live in West Africa.
So far, two victims have been laid to rest, a 12-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister.
At least 15 victims remain hospitalized, including eight at the Weill Cornell Burn Center. The FDNY said most of the hospitalized victims suffered serious smoke inhalation.
The investigation into the fire is ongoing, but investigators have said it started accidentally due to a malfunctioning space heater.
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CBS2’s John Dias contributed to this report.