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A Teenager Had Nearly Escaped a Raging Fire. Then He Heard a Little Girl’s Cries.

A Teenager Had Nearly Escaped a Raging Fire. Then He Heard a Little Girl’s Cries.
Lucas Silverio had almost reached safety when he heard 3-year-old Yasleen McDonald cry out. He turned back toward the flames.

The tragedy, and Mr. Silverio’s heroism, have captivated New York City and left many astonished at the selflessness of the teenager.

But to those who knew Mr. Silverio, nothing about what he did was surprising.

“He had such an immense heart, so full of love,” his second cousin, Jesse Alvarez, said. “Knowing who he was — there’s no way he was going to leave that kid behind.”

To his girlfriend, cousins, friends, uncles and high school classmates, altruism and compassion were Mr. Silverio’s trademarks.

“The first word that comes to my mind is ‘kind,’” said his girlfriend, Yamilet Rosario.

Ms. Rosario thought of the time she scolded Mr. Silverio after he had given money to a panhandler on the subway, for what seemed like “the hundredth time in a row.” Or how annoyed she would get when a stranger would stop Mr. Silverio on the street and he would always — always — stop and listen, no matter how ridiculous the conversation.

There is no official word on what started the fire on June 9 in the Twin Parks complex that killed two and injured 11.

The blaze, which began around 2 a.m., started between the 14th and 16th floors, near the apartment’s trash compactor, according to the Fire Department. The fire marshal is investigating the cause.

Earlier that night, the Silverio family — Mr. Silverio, his mother, several aunts, a grandmother and a cousin, Jeury Martinez, among others — had gathered inside a 15th-floor apartment to celebrate Mr. Silverio’s younger brother’s confirmation as a Roman Catholic, Mr. Alvarez said.

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