Mourners were still in "utter shock" Thursday at the Harlem fire that killed a mom, four of her children and her stepson early Wednesday.
Fundraising efforts are being made to finance funerals for Andrea Pollidore, 45, her 33-year-old stepson Mac Abdularaph, and four of her children — Nakyra Pollidore, 11, Andre Pollidore, 8, Brook-Lynn Pollidore, 6, and Elijah Pollidore, 3 — who all died when a blaze tore through their fifth-floor apartment in the Frederick Samuel Houses on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and West 142nd Street shortly after 1:30 a.m.
Sharing images of the charred apartment on Twitter, the FDNY said the blaze was accidental and started on a stove, which had been left unattended while something was cooking. It spread to all six rooms of the apartment, trapping the family in two bedrooms, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
A smoke alarm was installed in the apartment in June 2017 and tested in January, according to NYCHA officials, but investigators did not find it in the apartment Wednesday, the FDNY said.
The battery-powered device may have been removed or disabled before the fire started. Relatives of Andrea Pollidore told investigators she had a habit of disconnecting smoke detectors while cooking, according to reports.
Family and friends of the Pollidores held a vigil Thursday outside PS 194, a few blocks from the apartment where the children went to school.
Dozens of pink, blue and white balloons were tied to a railing around the school.
Miracle Smalls, 10, who was at the vigil with her mom, Marilyn Figueroa, 47, said she was good friends with Nakyra.
"When I found out the fire happened … I started to cry," she said. "I wanted the baby to start school and for the rest of them to enjoy the rest of their childhood."
Miracle said she and Nakyra did their homework together and "always supported each other." If Miracle didn’t understand something, Nakyra would help her learn.
"If I get stuck on a question, who is going to be there to help me?" she asked.
The two girls, along with Nakyra’s brother Andre, were planning to join a dance team together, Miracle said, but now it would be just her.
"We always had sleepovers … but now we can’t," she said.
On Thursday, Miracle said her fifth-grade class gathered in a circle as they do each morning.
"We will never forget her," she said.
Kendra Pollidore-Mulzac, 31, Andrea’s sister, said her family was "still in complete and utter shock."
"Every time one of the kids crosses your mind, please pray for us," she said at the vigil.
Pollidore-Mulzac has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral services. The National Action Network also pledged to help the family with the funeral expenses and is planning a Saturday fundraiser at their headquarters in Harlem.
Outside the building, Thursday, candles, flowers and Honeybuns — one of Elijah’s favorite foods — remained on the sidewalk, where members of the community had held a vigil the night before.
The windows of the apartment had been boarded up and a shed was placed over the entrance to the building.