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Families recall Prospect Avenue fire that left 13 dead during 2-year anniversary

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As the two-year anniversary of one of New York City's deadliest fires in history approaches, families are recalling the devastation as they try to move on.

The FDNY responded to a fast-moving fire that tore through an apartment building in Belmont on Dec. 28, 2017.

Fire officials said an unattended 3-year-old started the fire by playing with stove burners. An open door allowed the flames to easily spread.

They say 13 people died in the fire, including children.

Kadian Blake and her husband Gawayne lost five of their loved ones in the fire. Fire officials say 2-year-old Kylie Francis, 7-year-old Kelesha Francis, 19-year-old Shawntay Young and Karen and Holt Francis all died.

Blake's husband Gawayne says he remembers seeing first responders trying to save his uncle-in-law, with whom he was very close.

Ramdhanie Rajkumar also made it out of the fire alive, but says his life has never been the same. He says he has suffered from two strokes, and blames his health complications on the time he spend passed out in a plume of smoke inside the burning building.

These survivors are part of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the city, the landlord and several other parties.

The attorney representing 73 families says the claims include a lack of "self-closing doors" in the building and a faulty fire hydrant. He says he has had some discussions with a defense lawyers about potentially resolving the case, but nothing is concrete as of yet.


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