Apartment Fire Leaves 19 People Dead

Bronx building fire. | Image from NYT

A blazing fire broke out at a 120-unit apartment building Sunday in the Bronx due to a malfunctioning space heater.

Around 11 a.m. on January 9, approximately 200 firefighters arrived at the complex on East 18th Street to extinguish a fire on the third floor of the 19-story building. Reports state several children were carried out and administered oxygen.

The door to the apartment where the fire began, as well as the door to a nearby stairwell, were both found open, allowing the fire to advance quickly and the smoke to travel through the building. The doors are believed to have malfunctioned, as the apartment building was required to have self-closing doors.

Stefan Ringel, the senior advisor to mayor Eric Adams, released the death toll of 19 people, including nine children, who were 16 years or younger. Thirteen more individuals are in the hospital in critical condition.

According to fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, many residents experienced severe smoke inhalation. More than five dozen people were hurt. He also said firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest.”

One of the residents, 60-year-old, Vernessa Cunningham said, “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in shock,” after learning about the fire from an alert on her phone.

The Twin Parks North West apartments, built in 1973, may not have been up-to-date with current fire safety requirements. Other affordable projects in the area may likewise pose a fire risk.

U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democrat representing the area, stated, “Many of these buildings are old. Not every apartment has a fire alarm. Most of these buildings have no sprinkler system and so the risk of a fire is much higher in lower-income neighborhoods, in the Bronx, than it might be elsewhere in the city or in the country.”

Mayor Adams said, “This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times.”

An investigation is underway regarding the fire, but it is not believed to be suspicious.

The Dallas Express reported a fire in Philadelphia last week that left 13 people dead and two victims hospitalized.

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