Bronx Fire | A fire broke out in the Bronx on the third floor leaving 19 confirmed dead including 9 children. The fire was able to spread because the door to the apartment was left opened. Close to 200 firefighters were dispatched according to FDNY.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the fire “started in a malfunctioning electric space heater” in an apartment unit spanning the second and third floors of the 19-story building. The door of the apartment was left open, allowing smoke to quickly spread throughout the building, Nigro said.
Some residents, trapped in their apartments, broke windows for air and stuffed wet towels under their doors. One man rescued by firefighters said he’d become numb to fire alarms because of frequent false alarms.
Some residents “could not escape because of the volume of smoke,” Nigro said.
Stefan Ringel, a senior adviser to Mayor Eric Adams, said the children killed were 16 years old or younger. Many of the building’s residents were originally from the West African nation of Gambia, Adams said, and there was a large Muslim community.
Thirteen people remained hospitalized in critical condition, Ringel said. In all, more than five dozen people were hurt. Most of the victims had severe smoke inhalation, fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Adams called the toll “horrific.” Firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” Nigro said, calling it “unprecedented.”
By Sunday afternoon, all that remained visible of the unit where the fire started was a gaping black hole where the windows had been blown out. Apartments as high as the 12th floor also had broken windows. The intersection was choked with police and fire vehicles, and onlookers were still snapping cellphone pictures of the structure as darkness fell.
“There’s no guarantee that there’s a working fire alarm in every apartment, or in every common area,” U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the area, told the AP. “Most of these buildings have no sprinkler system. And so the housing stock of the Bronx is much more susceptible to devastating fires than most of the housing stock in the city.”
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