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S. Jam family seeks to return home after blaze

S. Jam family seeks to return home after blaze
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Christina Santucci

Nearly a month after a fire in a multi-family South Jamaica house took the life of a famed furniture designer, the living situation of one family whose apartment was in the basement of the building remains somewhat in limbo.

The family of three currently is staying in the Bronx but hoping to return to Queens.

Naomi Ebouki, 20, and her younger brother must now commute about two hours each way to school in Bayside from their family’s temporary apartment near Hunts Point. Before the fire, the trip would have taken her under an hour, she said.

“We are both taking two buses and one train,” Ebouki said, describing her route of the No. 6 train to the Q44 bus, which travels from the Bronx to Queens, and then the Q27 bus from downtown Flushing to get to class at Queensborough Community College, where she is studying business administration. Her brother is a senior at Bayside High School.

A vacate order has been in effect at the 157th Street home where they had lived until soon after Aug 20, when 83-year-old Charles Pollock was found dead inside his ground-floor studio. The Fire Department determined the blaze began with a cooking accident in his apartment, a spokesman said last month.

The house, which had been OK’d as a two-family residence, had been illegally subdivided into four units, according to the city Department of Buildings.

Ebouki said the family was told it could take three to six months for the city to find somewhere else for them to live in Queens.

And if they were allowed to return to the South Jamaica home eventually, her mother Mary Kayulu is concerned about staying on the ground floor of the home, where Pollock’s apartment is being combined with another unit.

“My mom was saying she doesn’t want to live there anymore because she doesn’t want to have nightmares,” Ebouki said, saying Kayulu did not realize until later that she heard Pollock trying to escape the blaze. “She can’t stop thinking about it.”

Reach Managing Editor Christina Santucci by phone at 718-260-4589 or by email at [email protected].

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