17 dead, including 8 children, in massive Bronx fire

Northeast

FORDHAM HEIGHTS, the Bronx (NewsNation Now) — At least 17 people, including eight children, have been killed in a New York City apartment fire that officials say started from a space heater.

Mayor Eric Adams announced the death toll during a news conference Sunday, when it was originally reported that 19 people, including nine children had died.

Those numbers were updated on Monday.

Firefighters were called to the building on East 181st Street in the Bronx just before 11 a.m. for a fire on the third floor of the 19-story high-rise. About 200 members of the New York City Fire Department battled the blaze, which rose to five alarms before it was brought under control Sunday afternoon.

Fire marshals determined the fire started in a bedroom due to a malfunctioning space heater. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the fire quickly consumed the duplex unit spanning the second and third floors where it started.

More than 40 additional people were injured in the fire, some of whom were considered to have life-threatening injuries, according to Nigro and Adams. Nigro said many of the people who were injured suffered from smoke inhalation.

Video shows flames shooting out of a window at the building. Several people were seen climbing down a ladder with firefighters as smoke and flames billowed out of the window.

Officials determined that the door to the apartment where the flames broke out was left open, “causing the fire to spread and the smoke to spread,” Nigro said. “This fire took its toll on our city.”

The blaze occurred less than a week after a rowhouse fire in Philadelphia killed 12 people, eight of them children.

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Adams said the painful impact of the fire, which he described as one of the worst in the city’s history, would be felt by everyone.

“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the City of New York,” he said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “horrified by the devastating fire” on Sunday.

The mayor and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, who was also at the scene, were working to bring resources into the area to help displaced residents and family members of the victims.

The Angelo Patri Middle School has been opened for individuals displaced by the fire.

The NYPD tweeted an advisory for motorists to avoid the area near East 181 Street and Valentine Avenue due to emergency vehicles and traffic.

New York Assemblymember Kenny Burgos said on NewsNation Prime on Sunday that it’s not uncommon to have many people and sometimes multiple families living in one apartment, which might have contributed to the magnitude of the disaster. He added that he has several questions about what measures were in place to prevent so many injuries and deaths.

“What made this fire become such a tragedy, as opposed to maybe just being something as limited (as) a kitchen fire?” Burgos said. “We need to know what caused it, what we can do going forward to prevent this from ever happening in our city.”

This story is developing.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.

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