A DEVASTATING fire engulfed a New York apartment building on Sunday, killing 19 including nine children and injuring dozens.
Mothers were seen collapsing in tears as flames raged through the 17-story building in the Bronx. Over thirty people were transported to hospitals with life-threatening injuries.
A total of 63 people were injured in the fire, according to the New York City Fire Department.
The fire was started by a portable electric space heater, said NYC Fire chief Thomas J. Richardson. A door was left open, allowing the fire and smoke to spread into the hallways.
“There is more to be discovered,” as the investigation continues, he added.
The fire reportedly started in the bedroom of a third-floor apartment, according to the FDNY. Shocking video footage showed smoke billowing out of windows.
The Bronx fire at Twin Park apartments at 333 E 181st Street started just before 11am ET. Firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes of the initial 911 call.
Approximately 200 firefighters were at the scene fighting the blaze and rescuing people who were trapped inside.
The 120-unit affordable housing development is near Tiebout Avenue in the Tremont section of the Bronx.
Stephan Beauvogui, a resident of the building, escaped with his wife and two sons. He smelled the smoke while lying down. He says his wife didn’t take him seriously when he complained about the smoke at first.
“Then I opened the door, and, Oh, my God!” Beauvogui added that flames and smoke were “everywhere”, calling it the scariest moment of his life.
“The devastating part was when we were going down the stairs, we saw dead bodies and dead dogs laying down,” said a building resident tearfully. “They were trying to rescue more people and give them CPR.”
“I feel so bad for my neighbors lost, we’re all like family.”
“We were just trying to breathe,” told the New York Times, another resident of the building, Wesley Patterson, 20.
He explained that he was trying to open the window but it burned his hands while more smoke was pouring in.
“I was yelling, ‘Please help me! Please come get us!’” he said.
“I was thinking about my son, and I was wondering if I was ever going to see him again.”
This is the deadliest apartment building fire in over 30 years, the official said to The Daily Beast.
Engine 48 was the first team to respond to the fire, according to the New York Post. However, the team was short-staffed, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said.
“They only had four firefighters instead of the five they are called for because of people out sick because of Covid,” said the Uniformed Firefighters Association president Andrew Ansbro.
“If there was adequate staffing the fire could have been put out faster and people would have received medical aid sooner.”
Read our Bronx apartment fire live blog for the very latest news and updates…
Mayor Eric Adams described it as “one of the worst fires we have witnessed here in modern times in the city of New York.”
“The numbers are horrific,” said the Mayor.
In a later update, the FDNY said 19 people had been treated at the scene with the others taken to five separate hospitals.
The predominant injury for the victims so far is severe smoke inhalation.
New York City’s Office of Emergency Management advised nearby residents on Twitter to “avoid smoke, close windows.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted: “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.
“The entire State of New York stands with New York City.”
FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said that victims were found on every floor of the high-rise apartment building, as well as in the stairwells.
He added that “the smoke conditions in this building were unprecedented,” and that victims had suffered from severe smoke inhalation.
The building that was built in 1972, according to city records, had a working fire alarm system and no known problems with the smoke alarms.
In disturbing scenes, a heroic firefighter was seen cradling a baby to safety while victims of the inferno were seen on stretchers and people being attended to by paramedics.
NYPD sent out a tweet advising people to avoid the area.