Konte, who is pregnant with her third child, was inside a laundromat across the street from the apartment building, Butler Houses in Claremont , was across the street from her family’s third floor apartment in the Butler Houses doing laundry when a fire sparked by burning incense ripped through the apartment.when the incense ignited the furniture on April 13.
Her girls, Jannubi and Amanda perished. Konte collapsed on the ground when she saw firefighters pulling her two babies from the apartment, witnesses said.
According to bereaved mother, she planned to return with ice cream for thegirls after checking on her clothes. However, the smoke alarms were off when the blaze started, leaving no warning of the fire before smoke poured out of the third-floor windows, witnesses said. Her husband, Bully Jabbie, a livery cab driver, was not home either, he was praying in the mosque when he learned about the death of his girls.
Firefighters arrived too late to save 2-year-old Amanda Jabie and her 18-month-old sister Jannubi. Witnesses said the visibly distraught Konte collapsed on the sidewalk, screaming “My babies!” as emergency responders carried the burned young bodies out of the building.
Konte, who was born in France and lived in Gambia in West Africa before immigrating to New York, about two years ago, still looked distraught as she faced a judge in Bronx Supreme Court, Tuesday . She was released without bail on the condition she surrendered her passport.
It remains unclear why the apartment’s smoke alarms did not go off. A New York City Housing Authority maintenance worker found the devices were working earlier in the day. But Konte’s lawyer, Karen Smolar of the Bronx Defenders, said there is no evidence that Conte switched off the alarms.
An FDNY source. said “We weren’t called until someone saw the smoke,” “If the alarms were working, we would have been called earlier.”
“This is a tragedy, and the community is doing everything they can to support her,” the lawyer added.
Konte faces four years in prison if convicted, but her lawyer said that prosecutors have offered her a non-jail sentence if she pleads guilty.