The Bronx apartment fire on December 28, 2017, that killed twelve people was the deadliest fire since 1990, more than twenty-five years ago. The five-story blaze took 170 firemen all night to douse, according to authorities. One of the deceased was less than a year old. The fire was started by a 3-year-old playing with a stove on the first floor.
In the wake of this, a team of Bronx locals put together a GoFundMe to support the families of the victims, the rest of the fourteen displaced households who can’t yet return to the 25-unit building, and the four people still in critical care.
The fundraiser, earmarked for covering funeral and medical expenses but with hopes for a larger scope, began on December 29 with a goal of $120,000. As of January 3, it hadn’t quite reached 10 percent of that. Funeral expenses in New York City are high, averaging above $8,000, which doesn’t include the cost of a burial plot.
Actress Alyssa Milano, with roots from nearby Brooklyn, helped draw the national eye to the fundraiser on January 2 with her own donation and a tweet. “I donated. Will you?”
In their statement on the GoFundMe page, the fundraisers state that all money raised will be given to the victims and their families. They don’t say how the distribution will be determined, but the donations have been trickling steadily in. Most donors contribute between $25 and $50. So far, 243 people have contributed, and hopefully many more will.
Those raising funds include New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, New York City Council member Ritchie Torres, Ischia Bravo of Community Board 7, and a handful of local business owners and entrepreneurs. Shanequa Charles, the voice of the group, also organized a candlelight vigil on January 1 and has been collecting material donations for the displaced survivors.