|Print this story||Permalink|
An early morning fire that started in a South Jamaica home last Thursday claimed the life of a 10-year-old boy and stunned the neighborhood.
Calvin Robinson, a fourth-grader at PS 30 described as a big, likable youth, died in his home at 139-04 Lakewood Ave.
His mother, Camilla Robinson, 43, was taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition and later admitted, said hospital spokeswoman Tara Stenzel-Fleming. She said Robinson suffered minor burns and was discharged the next day.
Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, said the cause of the boy's death had not yet been determined.
The first 911 call reporting the fire was made at 3:01 a.m. Thursday and firefighters brought the blaze under control by 3:50 a.m., said firefighter Mike Prendergast.
Police Officer Joseph Cavitolo said the cause of the fire was under investigation, but was not considered suspicious at this point.
Prendergast said 121 firefighters had responded to battle the two-alarm blaze that spread to the two neighboring houses and threatened the rest of the block. The inferno destroyed the Robinson's house and badly damaged the neighboring houses at 139-02 and 139-06 Lakewood Ave. before it was extinguished.
Titus Andermuwaguan, who lives several houses away, said if not for the work of the firefighters his house may have gone up in flames.
"The firefighters put forth a great effort," said Andermuwaguan, who feared the fire would have spread to more houses had it burned longer.
Ishakeen Stephens, who lives at 139-02 Lakewood Ave. next to the fire location, considered himself an older brother to Calvin. Now he must spend his short leave from the U.S. Marines coping not only with the loss of his surrogate sibling but also with the extensive damage to his own house and belongings.
Stephens said he had just gotten into bed when he smelled smoke. He then heard a scratching at the front door, which was caused by a stray dog. He quickly realized his neighbor's house was aflame.
"It happened too suddenly. The back of their house just exploded," Stephens said. "That dog saved us."
Stephen's mother is Camilla Robinson's best friend and was with her while she was being treated at Jamaica Hospital.
"The mother jumped out the back window. She thought he (Calvin) was with her," Stephens said, and then she panicked once she realized Calvin had not make it out of the house.
Stephens shook his head, wondering how he could leave for Japan in two weeks while his mother and two sisters were forced to stay on relatives' couches.
The family lives two houses away at 139-06 Lakewood Ave., and cannot return home for at least eight weeks because the fire disrupted heat, water, and electric service.
Despite this, the home owner, who asked not to be identified, could not focus on her own misfortune.
"There is a dead child," she said. "I cried so much this morning."
Loretta Antosotsky, a guidance counselor at PS 160, left the school and went to the house when she heard about the fire. Antosotsky had counseled Calvin when he first moved to Queens from Jamaica three years ago.
She said Calvin had a slight mental disability and was transferred to a special program at PS 30 near Rochdale Village that keeps special education students in regular classes for the most of the day.
Teachers and administrators at PS 30 were visibly upset after hearing the news. District 28 sent two crisis intervention teams comprised of social workers and psychologists to help students and teachers deal with the tragedy.
Leonard Shapiro, director of counselor and pupil services for District 28, said team members spoke to each class throughout the day trying to find students who might need further counseling.
Shapiro said it was especially important to reach children because of their limited comprehension of death and dying.
"If a kid can't sleep because he's afraid of what is going to happen to him, how can he learn? How can he get up for school the next day?" Shapiro said.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
|Print this story||Permalink|
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.