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Bronx grandmother jumps from burning building



June Debro, a retired nurse, escaped deadly fire that turned a happy holiday celebration into a nightmareGranddaughter to one of the victims, Diana Gonsalves, moves through the rubble of blaze that killed three people.


Granddaughter to one of the victims, Diana Gonsalves, moves through the rubble of blaze that killed three people.

A Bronx grandmother lost everything but her life in a deadly New Year’s Eve fire that killed her husband, sister and grandson in their home, family members said Tuesday.

June Debro, a retired nurse who jumped to safety from a third-floor window, remained hospitalized at Jacobi Medical Center after the fire that turned a planned holiday celebration into family devastation.

“She’s in pain,” said family member Tormaine Stevens, 32. “She’s very sad. She’s trying to make it, but it’s hard. And the house is gone. Everything is gone.”

June’s husband, John Debro, 73, was following his wife out of the burning Soundview building early Monday when he collapsed inside.

June’s sister, Annetta Isaac, 71, and grandson Jahvonte Smith, 12, were also killed in the massive 5:42 a.m. blaze. The medical examiner ruled Tuesday that all three died of smoke inhalation.



Detective interviews family members who escaped blaze.

The Debros’ granddaughter Diana Gonsalves said the family had planned to meet at the house and cook up a feast for a New Year’s party at another relative’s home.

“This New Year we were all going to my aunt’s house,” said the badly shaken Gonsalves. “We were going to eat and watch TV and just be together.”

The family members hoped to prepare lasagna, macaroni and cheese, chicken and yams for the party, she said.

But instead of ringing in the new year, the family was left to plan funerals and pray for the recovery of the survivors.

In addition to June Debro, Jahvonte’s 15-year-old sister also escaped and was taken for treatment at Jacobi. FIRE2N_5_WEB


Firefighters battle blaze.

Daylight poured through the home’s collapsed roof Tuesday after family members gazed mournfully at the destruction. The victims’ scorched and mangled belongings were piled on the sidewalk.

Rescue efforts were hindered when a 911 caller gave the FDNY the wrong address — delaying their arrival by about four minutes.

Jahvonte, who was asleep on a third-floor couch when the fire erupted, had just received an NBA video game for his PlayStation at Christmas, relatives said.

“He was just saying he wanted to be a basketball player,” Stevens recalled.

The suspected cause of the fire was a gas leak, although no final determination had yet been made.

Family patriarch Debro, a retired limo driver, brought the three-story brick home 33 years ago to house his large extended family.


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