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Toddlers critically injured in NYC apartment fire

Firefighters rescued the brothers from a burning fifth-floor apartment in Harlem


A resident is rescued, by a firefighter from a fire on Audubon Ave. in Washington Heights, Manhattan on Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

Sam Costanza for New York Daily News

New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A 2-year-old boy and his 1-year-old brother were critically injured in a Washington Heights fire, authorities said Thursday.

The victims were rescued from a six-story apartment building on Audubon Ave. near W. 175th St. after the blaze broke out in a fifth-floor unit shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday.

“My mom and I were trying to see if we can bring out the kids, but the couch was on fire,” neighbor Jayden Zorilla, 14, told the Daily News. “When I entered, the window glass broke, and there was blazing fire.”

Jayden said a girl came to her apartment and started banging on the door.

“She was saying there is a fire in her apartment,” the teen recounted.

Jayden’s mother Yucania Germosen, 40, said an older sister was trying to save her siblings, but the fire was already reaching the ceiling.

“They were crying out loud,” she said.

Germosen then wrapped the little girl who’d knocked in a blanket and asked her 10-year-old son Justin Zorilla to take her downstairs.

“She had burns on her face, and her hair was also burnt,” Justin said.

Along with the injured boys, their 8-year-old sister and another girl the same age were in the apartment at the time of the fire. One of the girls and the parents of the boys were taken into custody and were being questioned by police.

No charges were immediately filed. A source said investigators were trying to determine if the parents had left the kids home alone. The adults weren’t injured, and the mother may have been out getting milk when the fire erupted, the source added.

Cops were also trying to figure out if a neighbor had been asked by the parents to watch the kids.

Neighbor Christopher Vinansaca, 18, said that when he heard screams coming from the apartment, he thought there was an argument.

“But around 10:50 pm, there were louder screams and sounds of banging. So I went to check,” Vinansaca said.

“At 10:53 p.m., I called 911 and told them that there was a big fire coming from two doors away from us. One of the kids was in his crib when he was taken out.”

It took nearly 60 firefighters an hour to bring the fire under control after flames spread in the building above a street-level restaurant, the Emergency Snack Bar Plus.

The two young brothers were clinging to life Thursday.

Their 8-year-old sister was less badly hurt and was treated for smoke inhalation. Another girl, also 8, and her mother, 28, were treated for smoke inhalation, police said.

The 2-year-old boy and his older sister were taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, police said.

The other victims were taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, where the 1-year-old is in critical condition and the others are in stable condition, police said.

The cause of the Wednesday night fire is still under investigation.

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