A raging fire in New York City’s Bronx borough that killed at least 19 dead, including nine children, was caused by a space heater being used for supplemental heat FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday evening.
The latest death total from the New York Post is 19, but there are also 32 with left-threatening injuries, according to police.
The five-alarm fire at 333 E 181st Street has had 200 FDNY members responding, including on requiring hospitalization for injuries, according to the Post, and includes 9/11-like reports of desperate survivors jumping out of the 19-story building on fire.
Among the deceased is a 4-year-old, police said.
“We’ve lost 19 of our neighbors today. It’s a tragedy beyond measure. Join me in praying for those we lost, especially the 9 innocent young lives that were cut short,” Mayor Eric Adams wrote on Twitter.
Nigro warned to “expect there to be numerous fatalities,” while New York City Mayor Eric Adams called this “a horrific, horrific painful moment for the City of New York.”
“The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in this city,” Adams said at a press conference, the Post reported. “This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed in the City of New York in modern times.”
“This smoke extended the entire height of the building, completely unusual,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, calling the fire “unprecedented in our city.” “Members found victims on every floor in stairwells.
“The last time we had a loss of life that may be this horrific was at Happy Land Fire over 30 years ago here in the Bronx.”
The cause of the fire remains unknown.
“What I do know,” Nigro said, “is that the door to that apartment was left open causing the fire to spread and smoke to spread, which is always a problem for us. As we see here by the broken windows throughout the building, this fire took its toll on our city.
A 13-year-old girl told the Post she “saw moms fainting; they saw their kids dying.”
“We saw a bunch of bodies coming out,” she added. “People from my childhood were dying.”
U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democrat whose district includes the building, told MSNBC “decades of disinvestment” in affordable housing developments such as this one poses safety risks to residents and leaves such buildings “wide open to catastrophic fires that can cost people their lives.”
Some 200 firefighters helped put out the blaze, and some ran out of oxygen in their tanks but pushed through anyway to rescue people from the building, Adams told CNN on Sunday.
This was the second major deadly fire in a residential complex in the U.S. this week after 12 people, including eight children, were killed early on Wednesday when flames swept through a public housing apartment building in Philadelphia.
“I am horrified by the devastating fire in the Bronx today. My heart is with the loved ones of all those we’ve tragically lost, all of those impacted and with our heroic @FDNY firefighters,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul wrote on Twitter on Sunday.