A Queens mom of two and her grandparents died late Saturday when a fast-moving blaze swept through their home as they celebrated a relative’s upcoming wedding.
“Everyone was eating and partying” on the main floor of the two-story home on 211 St. near 93rd Ave. in Queens Village when the fire broke out, said Ranjit Kaur, 38.
Kaur, a family friend who was asleep in the house’s basement, ran out a side door after her two teenage children smelled smoke and woke her up.
As she fled, she saw “big red flames” shooting out from the house’s second floor.
Others in the house scrambled to get out, including at least one man who jumped from a second-floor window, witnesses said.
Harleen (Manni) Maggo and her paternal grandparents, an 82-year-old woman and an 87-year-old man, died. Their names have not been released.
Maggo’s two children, an 8-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy, were trapped inside the raging inferno.
Firfighters rescued both of them. The girl was in critical condition and the boy was in stable condition at Nassau University Medical Center, fire officials said Sunday morning.
Seven other people inside the home were taken to local hospitals with serious injuries that were not deemed life threatening, said FDNY Deputy Chief Michael Gala.
All told, firefighters rescued 11 people from the blaze, which they believe tore through the basement before climbing the stairs to the home's second floor and attic.
“It’s a big tragedy,” Kaur said. “I’ve never seen a big fire like this.”
The home did not appear to have a working smoke detector.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Kaur said.
Fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze.
Maggo, who took care of her children and lives in Hollis, Queens, had just bought a house with her husband in Hicksville in Nassau County, said Kaur.
She was staying over with her grandparents as part of a family gathering to celebrate a cousin’s upcoming marriage, neighbors said. The wedding was scheduled for next weekend.
Maggo’s mother, Harpinder “Hari” Kainth, operated a makeshift beauty salon in the front of the home, according to Kaur.
Her father, Ranjit Kainth, who was believed to be home when the fire broke out, works for a caterer delivery service, neighbors said.
The family was always cautious about fire hazards, according to Kaur, who noted they recently installed an electric stove for safety.
“These homes have too much wood and they catch fire and they spread,” said state Assemblyman David Weprin who visited the scene in his district.
“A lot of these homes don't have smoke alarms,” he added. “We need to educate people about that. It’s a real tragedy.”
Doreen Ramnath, a neighbor who has known the family for years, struggled to deal with the news.
“There’s an emptiness I don’t think is going to go away,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to be the same here.”
The grandparents were affectionately known in the neighborhood as Papji and Beeji. The family was originally from Punjab, India.