Mom dies in hospital: 3 children, 2 women killed by NJ retail store fire
ELIZABETH — A fire at a retail building has claimed the lives of five people, including a mother whose two young daughters had already perished in the Oct. 5 fire.
City officials on Tuesday revealed that the girls' mother, Merlyn Vasquez, 36, had died five days ago from the fast-moving fire.
Vasquez had been shopping in a second-floor furniture store on Elizabeth Avenue when the fire erupted in a party store on the first floor.
Vasquez was with her daughters — Daniela Marquez, 8, and Paola Marquez, 10 — and the sisters' 11-year-old friend, Elizabeth Correas, who all died in the fire.
Candida Martinez-Del Reyes, 41, also died in the fire. According to a GoFundMe page created to help with funeral expenses, she was married and had children.
Vasquez had been the only victim who officials identified as being hospitalized. She died Thursday but authorities did not report the news until this week.
Mayor Chris Bollwage said the victims got trapped when they opened a door that looked like it opened to a fire escape. The escape, however, was not functional and was blocked by bars.
The mayor did not know when the fire escape in the 100-year-old building had been replaced but he said the building was compliant with the fire code.
"From what construction officials tell me is that a two-story building does not need a fire escape if there are two means of egress in the building to an exit door. They existed to the rear door and the front door," Bollwage said.
“When they opened that door, which they thought was an exit, the fire, because of the oxygen coming in, consumed them very quickly," he said.
GoFundMe spokeswoman Meghan Weltman confirmed online fundraisers that will directly benefit the families affected by the fire: