The mother who was critically injured in a fatal Elizabeth fire that took the lives of her two young daughters and two others has died from her injuries, a city spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Merlyn Vasquez, 36, died Thursday at Trinitas Regional Medical Center, said Elizabeth spokeswoman Kelly Martins. She was taken there after a five-alarm blaze that broke out in a commercial building on the 800 block of Elizabeth Avenue on Oct. 5.
Two of Vasquez’s daughters Daniela Marquez, 8, and her 10-year-old sister, Paola, died in a second-floor furniture store after a fire erupted below in the Dollar & Party shop, authorities said. Their friend, Elizabeth Correas, 11, also died.
Another woman, Candida Martinez-Del Reyes, 41, was also found dead, but her relationship with the other victims was not immediately known by city officials.
The family immigrated from El Salvador last year, said Shirley Figueroa, who is a family representative for the Marquez sisters and has organized a fundraiser for them. The funds will help their older sister and go towards the costs of a funeral, she told residents during an emotional vigil for the victims.
The three girls were described as “angels” by people mourning their loss at the vigil last week.
Mayor Chris Bollwage and a city spokeswoman said the victims’ attempts to escape the second-floor store through two staircases were likely thwarted by the fast-moving flames. In a last-ditch attempt, they tried to escape through a large window or door that was once probably used for a fire escape, but no longer existed, the mayor said.
The victims attempted to break through strong fencing that was blocking the window, Bollwage said. Police who arrived on the scene unsuccessfully tried to pry open the fencing with their bare hands.
Bollwage said there was no need for a fire escape since there were two points of egress from the building. The fire department arrived “within minutes” to the scene after police, he said.
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