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7-Year-Old Girl Dies in Bronx Fire, 3-Year-Old Sister in Critical Condition

By  Jess Wisloski and Jesse Lent | March 17, 2013 12:28pm | Updated on March 17, 2013 3:27pm

BRONX — A 7-year-old girl was killed in a Concourse Village fire early Sunday, and her 3-year-old sister was struggling to survive at a local hospital, police said.

The blaze broke out moments after 3 a.m. Sunday morning, and the fire department was on the scene by 3:13, officials said. An adult in serious condition and one 3-year-old girl in cardiac arrest were sent to Lincoln Hospital, after the fire took over the fourth-floor apartment at 977 Grant Ave.

Hazel Martinez, 7, was found dead at the scene of the fire, fire officials said.

A man who identified himself as the grandfather of the two girls, Herman Martinez, 65, said he heard about the fire in the middle of the night and was devastated about Hazel.

"Everybody got along. I miss my granddaughter," he said. The entire family is huge Giants fans, he said, and once a week he'd meet the girls to play football in the playing courts at P.S. 35, just steps from the charred building.

"Every Sunday we played football right here," he said, pointing. Hazel loved running, he said. "She would run and run."

Martinez said the little girl enjoyed school, too. "She was the smartest one in the whole family. She got high grades and all that," he said, at P.S. 35, where she went.

"I loved them with all my heart," he said, speaking about both of his granddaughters. "And I still love them, whether they passed away or not."

Neighbors, who set up a small shrine amid the broken glass outside the building, remembered Hazel as spunky and filled with joy.

"She was a beautiful girl, full of life and always happy," said Mario Ferreria, 26, a downstairs neighbor.

Five firefighters were also sent to nearby hospitals for minor injuries, an FDNY spokesman said.

The fire was put under control by 3:49 a.m., officials said.

Jason, 22, a neighbor who did not want his last name used, said he saw the tragedy unfold in horror.

"I looked out of my window and I saw a man screaming from the apartment building that was on fire. It looked like he was trapped, he was screaming real loud."

"I ran downstairs and saw a young girl on a stretcher. She wasn't moving and she was black, real dark, covered in soot," he said. "She was burned real bad."

He watched as a firefighter tried CPR, he said, but it didn't work. "It's a real shame. She was a good kid."

It was unclear immediately what caused the fire, and an investigation was ongoing by the fire marshal.