About 200 firefighters were battling the pentagon blaze that began in a duplex apartment on the third floor of a 19-story high-rise at 333 East 181st Street in the Tremont section of the Bronx just before 11 a.m. Sunday.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said it appears the space heater is the cause of the fatal fire.
At least 63 people were injured, 32 sustained “life-threatening” injuries and 13 “clung to their lives” in nearby hospitals, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. The predominant injury to 32 victims was inhalation of heavy smoke.
Negro says he expected “many deaths”.
“This is going to be one of the worst fires we’ve seen here in the modern era in New York City,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at the press conference.
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An eyewitness News spoke with the man who lives in the apartment where the fire broke out.
“We were sleeping and then my kids were screaming fire, fire,” Mamadou Waghi said.
The fire started in a third-floor duplex in Wague, where he lives with his wife and eight children, one of whom is trapped on a burning bed.
Wague suffered a burn to his nose when he jumped through the flames to rescue his daughter, who is burned but alive.
“I don’t want anyone’s life – I don’t want to hear anyone die in this fire, that’s what worries me,” Wajo said.
Firefighters arrived at the scene three minutes after the initial fire call and were confronted with fire in the lobby of the building.
The victims were found in the stairs, according to the commissioner, as smoke extended from the height of the building.
Residents described the events that unfolded as “painful” as they fled the building during the fire.
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Fatima, a resident of the apartment, said, “There was a lot of smoke, so we had to stop at the sixth floor and managed to get to a neighbor’s house. We stayed there until the firefighters came and were able to guide us out.”
Negro noted that the door was left open, allowing fire and smoke to spread.
The 32 injured were taken to five different hospitals in the Bronx.
In total, at least 63 people were injured from the fire. Among the surviving victims, 13 people had life-threatening injuries, 9 people were in serious condition and 22 people had non-life-threatening injuries.
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New York Governor Cathy Hochhol said she was “terrified by the devastating fire.”
“My thoughts are with the loved ones of all those we tragically lost, all those affected and the heroic FDNY firefighters. The entire state of New York stands with New York City,” she added.
I am terrified of the devastating fires in the Bronx today.
My heart goes out to all the loved ones we tragically lost, all affected and our heroine Tweet embed Firefighter.
The entire state of New York stands with New York City.
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) January 9, 2022
Citizen app video shows flames escaping from the building.
An exciting video posted on social media shows fire and smoke pouring out of multiple windows in the building.
Since then the fire has been put out.
The investigation is still underway, but the fire commissioner said the fire was not suspicious.
Buildings Department inspectors are currently on site to perform structural stability checks throughout the building and assist with the ongoing investigation.
This was the second major fire to occur in the Bronx over the weekend. A four-alarm fire in the Fordham Heights section of the Bronx, which began early Saturday morning, injured a firefighter and left three families homeless.
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