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Infant Injured in Harlem Fire Recovering and Coming Home Soon, Dad Says

By DNAinfo Staff on April 10, 2012 3:24pm

A fire injured a 2-month-old on West 149th Street Monday, April 9, 2012.
A fire injured a 2-month-old on West 149th Street Monday, April 9, 2012.
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By Trevor Kapp and Wil Cruz

DNAinfo Staff

HARLEM — A 2-month-old girl seriously hurt in a fire on West 149th Street is recovering and expected home soon, her father said.

Rokia Kebe suffered serious injuries Monday when a fire broke out at 450 W. 149th St., fire officials said. Witnesses saw the newborn's mother, in a bathrobe and desperately clutching the baby, jump out of her apartment to safety.

"It was very scary," said the infant's father, Samba Kebe, 60, who escaped unharmed.

The child was taken to Harlem Hospital Center in serious condition, fire officials said.

The baby's father, an immigrant from Mali, said Rokia only has a bit of a fever and is expected home as early as Wednesday.

"She's OK," he said. "She'll be back soon."

No other children were injured in the blaze, officials said.

The child's mother, Gatta Gassma, 39, was home Tuesday, but it remained unclear if she was injured in the blaze. She appeared unharmed, but couldn't communicate in English.

Samba Kebe said eight children live in the apartment — evoking memories of a 2007 fire in the Bronx where nine people of a Malian family, including eight children, were killed.

The Harlem blaze sent residents of the six-story building scrambling onto fire escapes.

"It was terrible," said a fifth-floor tenant who has lived in the building since 1992. "It must have been 20 people on the fire escape."

The cause of the fire was under investigation.