Community mourns those killed in Rensselaer house fire

RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – There was a large heartfelt memorial set up in front of the home on Mann Ave.

Candles, stuffed animals, pictures and handwritten messages were left for the family.

Rensselaer City Schools were on a one hour delay Monday morning so that teachers and staff can meet with grief counselors, who will then be available for students throughout the day.

Dozens of people stopped by Sunday night’s vigil to pay their respects to 68-year-old Safia Albakhi, 41-year-old Monzalah Alshami, and her 8-year-old son Aymen, who was a third grader at Rensselaer Elementary.

They’re also praying for the brother and sister who survived but are still recovering from their injuries.

The 17-year-old brother jumped from a second-floor window and was treated at Albany Med and has since been released. His 16-year-old sister remains in critical condition at the Syracuse Burn Unit.

The father was at work when this fire broke out around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

He rushed home to find firefighters pulling his family members out of the burning house.

While they’ve lost half of their family, they’ve also lost their home and all of their belongings. Now he and his two surviving children have no place to call home.

“The best thing we can do right now is all come together and be there for this wonderful family. In this tragedy, the best thing to do is show them that Rensselaer cares about them and we’ll always be there for them,” Davontae Forman, a neighbor, said.

“It’s going to be different. It’s not going to be the same because we know when he comes back he’s not going to be the same either,” Salah Harris, a friend, said. “I mean how would you feel if you just had a loss like that?”

Investigators say they’re still not sure how the fire started but said the home was not equipped with functioning smoke detectors.

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