Friends and Relatives Mourn The Victims Who Died In Harlem Fire, Holds Vigil

By Paula Liu

The deaths of a mother and her five children in a May 8 Harlem fire has deeply shocked the community.

People worked together to fundraise enough money for the victims of the fire: Andrea Pollidore, 45, her 33-year-old stepson, Mac Abdularaph, and her other four children, Nakyra Pollidore, 11, Andre Pollidore, 8, Brook-Lynn Pollidore, 6, and Elijah Pollidore, 3. Many in the community were devastated to learn that the family of six passed away, reported AM New York.

The victims’ friends and family were able to hold a vigil a few blocks from where the four children went to school. Red, white, and pink colored balloons were tied to the railing around the school. In addition to the balloons, there were also flowers and Honeybuns—one of the favorite foods of the youngest child who died in the fire—which also placed where the vigil was held.

One of the children at the vigil, Miracle Smalls, was particularly close to Nakyra. When she found out about the fire and what happened to her 11-year-old friend, she said she started crying.

Smalls said the two of them constantly supported each other, and that they would do school work together, and whenever she was stuck on a question or came across something she didn’t understand, she would ask Nakyra, who would explain and help Smalls understand whatever she was stuck on.

“If I get stuck on a question, who is going to be there to help me?” Smalls said.

In addition, Smalls said she, along with Nakyra and Andre Pollidore, planned on joining a dance team, but with the siblings no longer here with her, she was going to have to join the dance team by herself. She talked about the things she would no longer be able to do with them.

“We always had sleepovers … but now we can’t,” she said.

Kendra Pollidore-Milzac, the sister of Andrea, said that everyone in the family was still in complete shock. They, too, were present during the vigil, with Kendra telling people to pray for the six family members she lost in that fire, especially the children. Kendra also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the funeral.

The National Action Network also decided to help the family with funeral arrangements by setting up their own fundraiser at their headquarters.

According to New York Fire Department (FDNY), the fire was an accident, and was started by an unattended stove. The fire from the stove traveled to six of the rooms in the apartment. Family members were in two of the six rooms and were trapped inside, the FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

NYCHA had installed and tested the fire alarms back in 2017, but they were not found during the scene of the fire, according to the news outlet. Relatives said that Andrea had a habit of disconnecting the fire alarms when cooking, according to the New York Times.

The FDNY shared a Facebook post detailing the rescue attempt from the fire department commissioner, Daniel Nigro.

“At approximately 1:40 am, we received a call from an occupant on the sixth floor of the building across the street reporting fire out of the windows. Our units responded in three minutes. We were met with fire at the large fifth-floor corner apartment. The entire apartment was involved. Our members aggressively moved in extinguishing the fire. When they reached the two rear bedrooms, they found six occupants of that apartment deceased, four children and two adults. As aggressive as the members could be, they were not able to reach those occupants. This fire didn’t go under control for over an hour. We had approximately 100 members on the scene.”