New Jersey

Family, Friends, City Officials Say Final Goodbyes to 5 Children Killed in Tragic NJ Fire

The fire ripped through a three-story home July 13 in Union City, and in subsequent days five children died from their injuries

What to Know

  • A funeral for the five children who died in the tragic apartment fire in New Jersey earlier this month was held Wednesday
  • The fire ripped through a three-story home July 13, and in subsequent days five children died from their injuries; four were siblings
  • Union City will pay for the funerals of the five children

Funeral services were held Wednesday for the five children who were killed in a raging New Jersey house fire earlier this month.

One by one, small white caskets were carried from St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Union City, past the faces anguished family and into awaiting hearses. 

The children - 2-year-old Jason Gonzalez, 4-year-old Shamira Lopez, 5-year-old Mayli Wood, 7-year-old Christian Josue Mendez and 13-year-old Jose Felipe Tejada - died from injuries they suffered in the July 13 fire. Officials have said four of the children were siblings, while the fifth was a relative.

A man and a woman were injured in the fire and are recovering.

A firefighter who responded to the blaze attended the funeral Wednesday.

"I was so very sad. We tried our best and we couldn't," he said. "God had other plans." 

Milagros Sanchez, another mourner from North Bergen, said, "It was so sad. I cried through the whole thing. We just have to pray for the family." 

The children were trapped on the top floor of a three-story home with no working fire alarms and a fire escape blocked by an air conditioner. A cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The city will pay for the funeral expenses through the Union City Fire Victims Fund, which has raised over $43,400.

Leber Funeral Home director Jim Leber said at the wake Tuesday, "It's difficult. This is the toughest thing I've handled. Unfortunately, we've had children pass away from fires but to have four members of one family and their cousin, it's just absolutely devastating." 

City officials said the building was zoned for two residential units and one commercial unit, but the landlord did not conform. The landlord now faces $60,000 in fines and about a dozen building and fire code violations, with more to come. 

Top Tri-State News Photos

Contact Us