Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Grieving Widow Who Lost 2 Kids, Husband In Fire Finds Small Comfort In Salvaged Urn Saved From Ruins

A mom who lost her husband and two daughters in a Brooklyn blaze salvaged a grim memento Tuesday of an earlier tragedy from the ruins of the family brownstone.

Newly widowed Theresa Wilson applauded when a kind-hearted city buildings worker retrieved the urn bearing the ashes of her 16-year-old daughter. She died five years ago from leukemia.

"It meant so much," said a grateful Wilson, who has six surviving children.

It appeared the fire was started by a 5-year-old playing with a lighter who ignited a mattress on the top floor of the four story Bushwick building, sources said.

Frantic family members, after failing to douse the flames, inadvertantly spread the fire through the house.

"They tried to smother the fire," a fire department source said. "Then they made an attempt to remove the burning mattress. The dragged it down the steps to the third floor."

That, sources said, turned the third floor into an inferno that killed Wilson's husband, Jeff Lormond, 62, and their daughter, 14-year-old Dijahna Lormond.

Firefighters found 3-year-old Ja'mayah Lormond on the second floor. She was rushed to nearby Woodhull Hospital where she died.

The fire claimed the lives of three family members.

Standing outside the charred building, Wilson said she was focusing now on clothing for her kids because they lost everything in the fire.

"I love my kids," Wilson said. "They didn't go to school today because they didn't have no sneakers. But they'll be in school tomorrow."

Wilson said it's the second time her family has been displaced by a blaze. They lost their last home on Lincoln Ave. in East New York five years ago to an electrical fire, she said.

The fire in the Putnam Ave. building was reported at 5:36 a.m. Monday.

It took nearly an hour for 60 firefighters to bring the deadly blaze under control.

"The way the flames were coming out the front door, it looked like the whole house was getting ready to fall down," said neighbor Leslie Quijano.

Wilson said she was at work when the fire broke out and her husband was taking care of the kids.

A 47-year-old man who survived the fire was in critical condition at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, police said.

Family friend Lawrence Jackson identified the man as Wilson's brother, Eddie, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and can't walk.

"I dragged him out," said Jackson, 40. "His feet were on fire, his feet and his back."

Jackson said he was sleeping on the third floor when the smoke alarm went off.

"The kids were yelling," he said. "They were frozen, stunned. I pushed them down the stairs. I wish I could have got the baby out."

Five other victims, including two firefighters, suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.

Horrified neighbors saw firefighters bring out Ja'mayah's body.

"I will never forget that," said neighbor Arlis Cruz. "I just knew the baby was gone."

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