College Sophomore Killed In Bronx Blaze After Being Separated From Family During Twin Parks Fire

The tragic Twin Parks fire on Sunday claimed the life of a sophomore at Lehman College in the Bronx

Sera Janneh, 27, died after being separated from her family during a fire in Fordham Heights, NY, which also claimed the lives of 16 others. Tijan Janneh, Sera’s father, told the New York Post he lost sight of his daughter after the building’s lights went out and never saw her again.

“We were all together, and all of us, about six of us, tried to escape together,” Tijan said. “When there was fire, we went to the fourth floor, and the dark smoke was everywhere. The whole building’s lights had gone off. We couldn’t see each other, so we were split up. Sera was left behind.”

He believed that all of his children were safe after a firefighter told him that his children were out of the building. Tijan later learned of his daughter’s death from firefighters who found her body in a hallway of the building. Sera’s younger sister Isatou, 18, is currently in critical condition due to smoke inhalation. 

He remembers his daughter as someone who made others feel loved. 

“She was very kind, respectful, very humble, and hard-working,” Tijan said. “She went to work all the time and was good at school.”

Breanna Elleston, Sera’s best friend, said that she is “still processing” the death of her friend. Elleston, 27, recalls a dream she recently had of the two getting together and chatting – something Sera enjoyed doing.

“Even last night, I had a dream that she called me, and I answered it, and I said, ‘I thought you were gone,'” Elleston said. “She said, ‘No,’ and I was really relieved. And I woke up feeling a little bit better. After that dream, I felt a little bit comforted even though I woke up to reality.”

Elleston recalls making “really great memories” during trips to Los Angeles and Atlanta with Sera, attending the annual Afropunk Music festival in 2015, and even mentioning that the singer and actor Chris Brown was Sera’s favorite artist in high school. The two became friends in 2009 after meeting at the High School of Health Professions and Human Service. She even helped Elleston after her Brooklyn home caught fire in the summer of 2021.

“She helped me out emotionally,” she said. “At times when I wanted to isolate myself, she would push me to go out and go do something fun. She was always able to make me laugh — and not just laugh, but those deep belly laughs. She was very funny. You felt safe around her; you felt like she was trustworthy.”

Sera was a sophomore at Lehman College majoring in psychology. The school released a statement expressing their condolences to Janneh’s family and confirming that several other students had listed Twin Parks tower as their address and were working to verify their safety.

“Lehman College is saddened to confirm that one of our students, Sera Janneh, a sophomore majoring in psychology, perished as a result of the fire at the Twin Parks North West apartment building on Jan. 9,” the statement read. “Our deepest condolences to the Janneh Family and all of those who have lost friends and loved ones in Sunday’s fire.”

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