A 41-year-old mother is dead after venturing back into her burning home in an attempt to save members of her family over the weekend.
As the blaze ripped through the home in the city of Rensselaer around 4:45 a.m. Sunday, Monzalah Alshami, 41, and her 17-year-old son, Motasam Alshami, leaped to safety from a window on the second floor, the Albany Times Union reported.
Monzalah Alshami then ran to the front of the building and barreled through the door to try and rescue her younger son, 8-year-old Aymen, and her mother, 68-year-old Safia Alblakhi.
Motasam Alshami tried to follow his mother back into the house, but he was driven out by the flames, officials said. He then ran across the street to seek help from a neighbor.
One neighbor who saw the fire, Tom Archer, said the flames were so intense they were “lighting the sky.”
All three who remained inside the wood-frame home died of smoke inhalation. It took firefighters about 90 minutes to gain control of the blaze, but the entire home had been gutted by then.
Rensselaer Fire Chief Bill Hummel described the fire as one of the worst he’d ever seen in his 42-year career.
Motasam Alshami was treated at the Albany Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries, while his 16-year-old sister, Rafa Alshami, was treated for burns at the Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse and was in critical condition as of Monday night. She had burns over 30 percent of her body, officials said.
Saddek Alshami, the children’s father, had gone to work Sunday and wasn’t home when the blaze began.
Neighbor Alex Cook told the Troy Record that he would see the two brothers playing basketball in their driveway, describing them as “good kids.” The family is from Egypt, Cook said.
The investigation into what started the fire is ongoing. Although there were smoke detectors in the house, the blaze “spread so fast,” Rensselaer Mayor Daniel Dwyer said Monday.
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A vigil outside the home was held on Sunday, with local residents continuing to place items at a memorial there later in the week.
“It’s been a tough weekend in the community here,” said Rensselaer Police Det. Scott Earing.
(H/T: Albany Times Union)