On the eve of what was to be a celebratory day, tragedy struck in the Bronx’s Wakefield neighborhood. Skylar Michilin, a young woman with special needs, lost her life in a devastating house fire on Saturday.
Michilin, who was just hours shy of her 14th birthday, was in her second-floor bedroom on Boyd Avenue, between Bussig and Pitman Avenues, when the fire erupted around 4:15 p.m.
Neighbors quickly gathered in a desperate attempt to save the girl. Erdene Kims, 21, a resident of the block, described the harrowing scene. “I saw the flames…I yelled, ‘Fires, we need people to help,'” Kims recounted. Despite the efforts of several people who tried to enter the building, they were unable to locate Skylar. “We saw the window break, then we saw the flames coming through the window right on the second floor,” Kims added, expressing the helplessness felt by the onlookers.
A Mother’s Heartbreak and A Community in Mourning
The fire, which was later brought under control by the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) around 5:00 p.m., claimed Skylar’s life. Her mother, Rosemarie Thompson, lamented the loss, recalling her final moments with her daughter.
“I talked to her during lunch and fed her, changed her, and gave her lunch; she loves McDonald’s fries. She was in bed when I left around 12,” Thompson shared with profound grief.
As the community reels from this loss, neighbors remember Skylar fondly. Described as a friendly child with a passion for music, Skylar, who was nonverbal and had Down syndrome, attended P10 in Throggs Neck.
“Everyone is very distraught,” said Natalia Greene, 21, a neighbor. “Lots of love. Incredibly fun-loving and outgoing.” Another neighbor echoed these sentiments, recalling Skylar as a “sweet little girl.”
While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, the incident has left a deep impact on the community. Skylar’s family, who had moved to the Wakefield house 11 months ago, and the neighborhood at large are left to mourn the loss of a beloved member of their community.