This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
Advertisement

At least 12 people, including four children, killed in New York apartment fire

About 170 firefighters rescued a dozen people from the building.

Updated at 2.27pm

NEW YORK CITY’S deadliest residential fire in decades spread through every floor of a Bronx apartment building within a matter of minutes, city officials said, killing 12 people — including four children — and sending other residents scrambling outside into the cold and down fire escapes to safety.

Those who died included girls ages 1, 2 and 7, and a boy whose age was not given. Other people were still fighting for their lives, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN. He said first responders saved at least 12 lives.

He warned previously that “we may lose others”, fearing the death toll could rise.

Bronx Fire New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference Source: Frank Franklin II via PA Images

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro called the fire “historic in its magnitude” because of the number of lives lost:

Our hearts go out to every person who lost a loved one here and everyone who is fighting for their lives.

Excluding the 9/11 attacks, it was the worst fire in the city since 87 people were killed at a social club fire in the Bronx in 1990.

The blaze broke out on the first floor of a five-story building just before 7 pm local time (midnight Irish time) and quickly tore through the roughly century-old structure near the Bronx Zoo.

Some tenants of the building, a mix of native New Yorkers and Latino and African immigrants, climbed down fire escapes. But the flames moved so fast that many never made it out of their apartments.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

About 170 firefighters worked in bone-chilling cold to rescue about a dozen people from the building. Water sprayed from hoses froze on the street.

Bronx Fire Firefighters respond to a deadly fire Source: Frank Franklin II via PA Images

Thierno Diallo, 59, a security guard originally from Conakry, Guinea, who lives in a ground floor apartment said he was asleep when he heard banging on the door. It took him a moment to realise what was happening.

Only when I heard people screaming, ‘There’s a fire in the building!’ I heard somebody, ‘Oh! Fire! Fire! Fire!’

He ran out in his bathrobe, jacket and sandals.

Kenneth Kodua, 37, said he left his apartment to get food, leaving his roommate behind, and came back to find people fleeing in a panic.

Hours later, he was still trying to find out whether his roommate escaped.

“I tried calling her. I tried calling. No answer,” he said, still clutching his bag of uneaten food. His phone was dead.

Many questions remained in the immediate aftermath of the blaze, including how the fire spread so quickly in a brick building built after catastrophic fires at the turn of the 20th century ushered in an era of tougher enforcement of fire codes.

Bronx Fire Firefighters respond to a building fire Source: Frank Franklin II via PA Images

The building had more than 20 units. It was not new enough that it was required to have modern-day fireproofing, like sprinkler systems and interior steel construction.

Neighborhood resident Robert Gonzalez said a friend who lives in the building was able to get out via the fire escape as another resident fled with five children.

“When I got here, she was crying,” Gonzalez said.

Other witnesses described seeing burned bodies being carried away on stretchers and young girls who had escaped the building standing barefoot outside with no coats.

Windows on some upper floors were smashed and blackened. Displaced residents wrapped in Red Cross blankets were staying warm on city buses, brought in to provide heat.

Twum Bredu, 61, arrived in the neighborhood looking for his brother, who had been staying with a family in the building. The family, a husband and wife and four children, got out. But there was no word yet about his brother.

“I’ve been calling his phone, it’s ringing, but nobody picks up,” Bredu said. “He was in his room, and we don’t know what happened.”

The death toll surpassed the 10 who died, including nine children, in a four-story home in another part of the Bronx in 2007. That blaze had been sparked by a space heater.

Originally published 7.14am

Read: Irish view on favorability of world leaders shows we strongly dislike Theresa May>

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (4)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel