When Flushing resident Hong Qu saw his neighbor’s house in flames at 1 a.m. on Feb. 15, he immediately created a GoFundMe campaign to help the family recover from the tragedy that claimed the lives of a 65-year-old father and his 6-year-old son.
Qu’s GoFundMe campaign has surpassed its goal, raising $8,776 to help the family that resided on the first floor of the two-story home on 157th Street between 45th and 46th avenues.
“I am glad so many kind generous strangers and friends are contributing and helping the family in this crisis,” said Qu, who lives across the street from the family and has known them for six years. “They’re being so sympathetic and compassionate to make a small difference in the lives of the survivors.”
On the night of the incident, Qu was wide awake working when he saw the blaze from his window, and his neighbor running out of the house while firetrucks were pulling up to the scene.
Sixty firefighters from 12 units responded to the inferno, along with the 109th Precinct. According to police, firefighters had found 65-year-old Stephen Blumling and his 6-year-old son Shawn Blumling inside the house, unconscious and unresponsive. They were pronounced dead.
Firefighters rescued Blumling’s 6-year-old twin brother, who had burns on his body. He was rushed to Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, where he is listed in stable condition. The boys’ 41-year-old mother was not injured. All were on the first floor, where the fire broke out. Residents who lived on the second floor, escaped without injury.
The FDNY on Tuesday, Feb. 16, said that the cause of the fire was accidental and an electrical fire that started in the exterior shed and extended to the rear of the house. A smoke alarm was present but not activated.
“It’s just devastating,” Qu said. “I thought the two kids and their father were sheltering somewhere else, but then I saw the news. It took a long time for us to even accept the fact that it happened this way. It turned out to be the worst of the worst.”
According to Qu, the mother is doing the best she can and is slowly recovering from the incident.
“Yesterday, we were helping her move some of their belongings out of the damaged house,” Qu said. “I’m just really glad people are checking in and confirming, and their legitimate funds will go directly to the family.”