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NEW YORK: At least 19 people, including nine children, have been killed after a fire ravaged a Bronx apartment building on Sunday in what became New York City’s deadliest blaze in more than three decades.
Stefan Ringel, senior adviser to Mayor Eric Adams, confirmed the death toll. He said the children killed were 16 or younger.
Thirteen people remained hospitalized in critical condition, Ringel said. In total, more than five dozen people were injured. Most of the victims had severe smoke inhalations, said Fire Marshal Daniel Nigro.
Adams called the fire’s toll “horrific” and said “it will be one of the worst fires we have seen in modern times.”
âWe have lost 19 of our neighbors today. It is a tragedy beyond measure. Join me in praying for those we have lost, especially the 9 innocent young people who have been cut short, âAdams wrote on Twitter.
Thanks to the men and women of @FDNY for fighting so valiantly against today’s Five Alarms in the Bronx. An investigation into what happened is underway.
To all affected by this tragedy: your city will be with you in the days to come.
– Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) January 9, 2022
Firefighters “found victims on every floor and brought them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” Nigro said. âIt’s unheard of in our city. “
About 200 firefighters responded to the 181st Street East building around 11 a.m. Sunday, and some ran out of oxygen in their tanks but still pushed to save the people in the building, Adams told CNN. Initial reports indicated that the blaze was on the third floor of the 19-story building, with flames blowing through the windows.
U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democrat whose district includes the building, told MSNBC that “decades of divestment” in affordable housing developments like this pose safety risks to residents and leave these buildings “tall. open to catastrophic fires that can cost people their lives. “
News photographers captured footage of firefighters entering the upper floors of the burning building on a ladder, several limp children receiving oxygen after their execution and being evacuated with their faces covered in soot.
Resident Vernessa Cunningham, 60, said she ran home from church after receiving an alert on her cell phone that the building was on fire.
.@NYCMayor Eric Adams and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro provide an update on this morning’s 5-alarm fire scene at 333 East 181 Street in the Bronx. Read more: https://t.co/yoWep5bRMV pic.twitter.com/6dMnTED1VA
– FDNY (@FDNY) January 9, 2022
âI couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in shock, âCunningham said from a nearby school where some residents gathered. âI could see my apartment. The windows were all smashed. And I could see flames coming from the back of the building.
Sunday’s fire started in a duplex apartment spanning the second and third floors, Nigro said. Firefighters found the apartment door open, he said, which apparently allowed the blaze to accelerate quickly and spread smoke upwards.
The fire is not suspect, but the cause is under investigation, officials said.
Cristal Diaz, a 27-year-old resident, told the New York Post that she started putting wet towels at the bottom of her door after smelling smoke while drinking coffee in her living room.
âIt was all crazy,â she said. âWe didn’t know what to do. We looked out the windows and saw all the corpses they were taking with the blankets.
The 120-unit Twin Parks North West complex was built in 1973 as part of a modern, affordable housing project in the Bronx.
“There is no guarantee that there is a working fire alarm in every apartment or in every common space,” US Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the region, told The Associated Press. âMost of these buildings don’t have sprinkler systems. And so the Bronx housing stock is much more susceptible to devastating fires than most housing in the city. “
Nigro and Torres both compared the severity of the fire to a 1990 fire at the Happy Land social club where 87 people were killed when a man set the building on fire after arguing with his former girlfriend and being kicked out of the Bronx club.
About 200 FDNY members are operating at the scene of a 5-alarm fire at 333 East 181 Street in the Bronx. There are currently 19 seriously injured civilians. pic.twitter.com/R3pnXs8NlX
– FDNY (@FDNY) January 9, 2022
Sunday’s death toll was the highest for a fire in the city since the Happy Land fire. It is also the deadliest fire in a U.S. residential building since 2017, when 13 people died in a building, also in the Bronx, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.
This fire started with a 3-year-old boy playing with stove burners and led to several law changes in New York City, including asking firefighters to create a plan to educate children and parents about fire safety and by requiring the installation of certain residential buildings. self-closing doors.
Sunday’s fire came just days after 12 people, including eight children, were killed in a house fire in Philadelphia. The deadliest fire before this occurred in 1989 when a fire in an apartment building in Tennessee claimed the lives of 16 people.
âI am horrified by the devastating fire in the Bronx today. My heart is with the loved ones of all we tragically lost, all of those affected and with our heroic firefighters @FDNY, âNew York Governor Kathy Hochul wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
(With AP and Reuters)