UPDATE 11/23/2021 -- 4-Year-Old Girl Dies Days After Harlem Fire That Killed Mother
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Two people were killed overnight when a fire broke out at an apartment building in Harlem.
Eight other people, including two children and two firefighters, were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries, but are expected to survive.
The family of Adianatou-Nene Korouma, 37, a mother of two, described her as joyful and fun. Her husband called her a devoted mother whose main priorities were their children, 4-year-old Aissata and 3-week-old Souleymane.
"She's a lovely wife. I love her and she's a very good person," Papa Kante told CBS2's Kiran Dhillon.
Korouma was one of dozens of people inside the five-story building at the corner of West 112th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard when a fire started inside a unit around 1:30 a.m. Friday.
Kante said he was at work when his wife, who was home with their two kids, called him in a panic.
"I come right away. When I answered the phone, right away I called 911 when she told me she could not get out," Kante said. "She said she could not get out, it's too much smoke."
Grieving family members came to comfort Kante, who said he was still processing his sorrow.
Korouma, along with nine other people, including her children and two firefighters, were taken to the hospital with various injuries, including smoke inhalation.
An 81-year-old man, identified by friends as Charles Brown, a Vietnam War veteran and retired music professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College, also did not survive.
"He was just a terrific guy," said Daniel Lipsman. "He was a consummate friend. He cared about people. He cared about the kids."
Police said the other victims, including the two children, are in stable condition.
Officials said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it is not considered suspicious. Arson has been ruled out.
They said heavy clutter in the apartment where the fire started prevented a door from being closed, which likely helped the fire spread.
"New Yorkers, you have the power to save your neighbors or to put them in danger, and it's a simple thing. If you have a fire, close the door behind you," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Kante said he's still processing the loss of his wife.
"Nobody can be feeling good for this kind of situation," he said. "A couple hours, your life changes."
Kante said he's focused on making sure his two young children are OK.
A total of four families were displaced by the fire. The Red Cross is helping them.
CBS2's John Dias and Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.
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