On Sunday, a major fire in a residential apartment building in New York City’s Bronx killed 19 people, including nine children, in what Mayor Eric Adams described as one of the city’s worst fires in modern times.
32 people were taken to hospitals with life-threatening injuries as a result of the fire, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said earlier Sunday. 63 people were injured in total.
Why Bronx apartment fired?
The fire was started by a “malfunctioning electric space heater” Nigro stated during a press conference. The heater was located in an apartment’s bedroom, and the fire quickly consumed the room and then the entire building, he explained.
When residents left their apartment, the door was left open, allowing smoke to spread throughout the building, Nigro said.
“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York, and the impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of just pain and despair in our city,” Adams said.
Smoke alarms were operable, and it remains under investigation how the smoke traveled so far so quickly.
Guillermo Sanchez, a resident who lives on the 16th floor, was making breakfast when he began to smell smoke, he told ABC News.
“My son went to the door,” he said. “We opened the door. Smoke comes in immediately, so we closed the door.”
Bronx apartment fire leaves 19 people dead
Around 200 firefighters from the New York City Fire Department responded to the fire at 333 East 181st Street. The fire began shortly before 11 a.m. in a duplex apartment on the building’s second and third floors, according to the FDNY.
Approximately 13 people are in Bronx hospitals with life-threatening injuries, officials said.
Victims were discovered on every floor of the building in stairwells, many of them in cardiac arrest, in what Nigro described as an unprecedented loss of life. According to him, the majority of the injuries were caused by smoke inhalation.
The FDNY shared several images of the scene, which included ladders extending into apartment windows and several broken windows.
One of the worst fires in New York city
Adams praised the first responders, saying many of the firefighters’ oxygen tanks eventually became empty but “they still went through the smoke.”
“This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times here in the city of New York,” Adams said.”I am horrified by the devastating fire in the Bronx today,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Twitter. “My heart is with the loved ones of all those we’ve tragically lost, all of those impacted and with our heroic FDNY firefighters. The entire State of New York stands with New York City.”
Fire gushes out of multiple windows in the building, according to dramatic images shared on social media. Just before 11 a.m., the FDNY began receiving calls from multiple residents on upper floors.
The blaze has since been extinguished. Additional information, including the conditions of the other victims, was unavailable immediately.
The residents were predominantly Muslim and Gambian, and the city will assist them with special consideration for cultural needs, Adams told ABC News.
The 19-story building was built in 1972 and has 120 units, according to city records.
According to city building records, there have been no significant building violations or complaints filed against the structure. Minor violations in the past have been corrected by the property, and no structural violations were listed.