They stood for hours in the bitter cold, wiping away tears and whispering prayers in front of the charred remains of a building where so much was lost.
Standing and praying was really all they could manage, the dozens of devastated people who gathered last night for a candlelit vigil in front of what was left of Rasheedah Wilson's rowhouse in Feltonville.
Wilson and her three children were killed early Thursday when a ferocious fire consumed the inside of their home on Palethorp Street near Louden in a matter of minutes.
Wilson, 33, was a block captain, seemingly loved by everyone on her narrow street for organizing block parties for all the neighborhood kids and encouraging residents to do weekly cleanups.
Her kids, 14-year-old Jamar Nobles, 11-year-old Minyan Wilson and 8-year-old Shanai Patter, were sweet and well-mannered, the kind other neighbors were happy to have in their homes for play dates with their children.
Wilson and her kids, they were good people, friends said, the kind you'd want up your street.
The fact that they were taken so painfully, so suddenly, was more than most could bear.
"It's crushed my spirit. I can't sleep at all," said Steven Washington, who lived a few doors from Wilson.
"Her son was friends with my son. He used to stay at my house all the time, come on vacations with us," he said. "It's just devastating all around."
Jennifer Tercier lived next door to Wilson's family. She said she had dozed off for the night when the fire began raging inside Wilson's home about 1:30 a.m.
"My mom started screaming because smoke starting coming through our steps," Tercier said.
"She said she heard Ms. Rasheedah screaming, heard the kids screaming."
Tercier said she helped her 85-year-old grandmother get out of her house moments before flames exploded through the windows on the second floor of Wilson's home.