Six Ghanaian immigrants have been identified among the twelve victims of the Bronx fire that razed a five-story apartment building in New York City on December 28, 2017.
Among them is the 28-year-old Army National Guard soldier Emmanuel Mensah who had just returned home for the holidays. He was named a hero for evacuating nearly a half-dozen people before losing his life.
The others are 49-year-old Solomon Donkor who died in Apartment 19 together with his 17-year-old daughter Hannah Adoma Donkor and his 12-year-old son William Donkor. The children arrived in the United States just a month ago from Ghana to start school.
48-year-old Gabriel Yaw Sarkodie and 54-year-old Justice Opoku did not make it out of the fire that was started by a three-year-old boy playing with a kitchen stove in one of the flats.
Their deaths struck the large Ghanaian community in New York City, and Ghanaians back home who mourned the deaths of their compatriots.
The President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo commiserated with the families of the victims and offered them the government’s support.
My deepest condolences to the families of the Ghanaian nationals, who tragically lost their lives in Saturday’s Bronx apartment fire disaster in New York. Gov’t, through our Mission in Washington, is coming to the aid of the affected families. May their souls rest in peace!!
— Nana Akufo-Addo (@NAkufoAddo) December 31, 2017
A candlelight vigil will be held on January 4, 2018, for the six Ghanaians.
Join the Ghanaian community in the Bronx to mourn the six Ghanaian victims of the December 28 fire. pic.twitter.com/SQsM0d7ZW1
— Ismail Akwei (@akweiakwei) January 2, 2018
For the soldier, Emmanuel Mensah, the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio eulogised him for his bravery that cost him his life.
“Private Emmanuel Mensah was a first generation immigrant, a soldier, and a New Yorker. He gave his life rescuing his neighbors in the Bronx fire. His heroism exemplifies the best of our city. Rest in peace,” Bill de Blasio said in a tweet on Saturday.
Private Emmanuel Mensah was a first generation immigrant, a soldier, and a New Yorker. He gave his life rescuing his neighbors in the Bronx fire. His heroism exemplifies the best of our city. Rest in peace.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 30, 2017
Emmanuel Mensah and his family moved to the United States some six years ago from Ghana. His father, 62-year-old Kwabena Mensah, who lives a few buildings away, said Emmanuel had always wanted to join the army since they arrived in the U.S.
The fire is described as the deadliest since the 1990 Happy Land Social Club fire that claimed 87 lives a few blocks away.