A grief-stricken Harlem dad is praying his young daughter and newborn son survive injuries they sustained in the fast-moving fire which killed their mother.
Adianatou-Nene Kourouma, 37, was one of two people killed in their fourth-floor apartments at 1833 Seventh Ave. Friday night when a fire broke out on in a unit on the floor below, and quickly spread when the door of the unit was jammed open.
Delivery driver Papa Kante, 38, visited his 4-year-old daughter Aissata at Jacobi Hospital on Saturday, intending to tell her that her mom did not make it out of the building alive.
“I haven’t had a chance yet to tell my daughter what happened to her mother,” Kante told The Post. “My daughter is still on a ventilator and cannot speak.”
“My wife was a very good person and loving mother,” he said. “She was the most honest person I have ever met in my life and now she is gone.”
Aissata Kante suffered cardiac arrest while trapped in her family’s apartment during the fire, but was revived by EMS workers at the scene.
Kante’s 3-week-old infant, Soulymane, also being treated at Jacobi Hospital and is reportedly in better condition than his older sister.
Kante and Kourouma met at college in west-African nation Mali before moving to the US in 2004. The shell-shocked widower intended to see his wife’s remains after visiting his children in hospital, he said.
“My wife and I came to the US for better opportunity and because it’s a good country,” he said.
The apartments impacted by fire have been deemed uninhabitable, and “imminently perilous to life” by the FDNY, while cleaners have begun the two-week task of removing smoke damage.
Kante’s brother-in-law, Mamadou Traore, 57, has taken him in while his apartment remains boarded up.
“Papa has been crying all morning,” Traore said. “It was terrifying what happened to his wife but we just thank God the two children survived.”
Firefighters from Division 3, including those who fought the fire, revisited the building on Saturday to retrace their steps and analyze their response. Fire Marshals have yet to rule on the cause of the blaze, although arson has been ruled out.
A neighbor of 81-year-old Vietnam War veteran and retired music professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College, Charles Brown, who was also killed in the fire, remembered him as a friendly man who was looking forward to enjoying his retirement.
“He was a gentleman. He was kind, gentle and generous,” neighbor LeRoy Whethers, 70, said. “He had a cane and walked slowly. Two days before the fire he told me he had plans to take a long vacation, do some painting and enjoy life. Mr. Brown loved life.”
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