New York recorded its most fatal fire in over three decades on Sunday when a blaze hit a Bronx apartment building, leaving at least 19 victims – including nine children – dead, AP News reported.
The number of deaths was confirmed by Mayor Eric Adams’ senior adviser Stefan Ringel who said that the kids who did not survive the incident were aged 16 years or younger.
Apart from the deaths, Ringel also confirmed that thirteen others who are in serious condition are seeking hospital care.
The fire hurt over five dozen persons. Dire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that most of the victims suffered from serious smoke inhalation.
The fire was defined by Adams as “horrific”, saying that “this is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times.”
Nigro said that firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest.”
“That is unprecedented in our city,” he said.
At around 11 in the morning Sunday, an estimate of 200 firefighters responded to the fire incident at a 19-story building on East 181st Street. According to initial reports, five persons were on the third floor and the fire was severely damaging the windows.
Firefighters were seen accessing the building’s upper floors using a ladder, as what captured by news photographers.
Young victims are being carried outside and being provided oxygen. Evacuees were seen being wrapped in dirt.
60-year-old Vernessa Cunningham, one of the residents, rushed home when she received the information.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in shock,” she said. “I could see my apartment. The windows were all busted out. And I could see flames coming from the back of the building.”
According to Nigro, the fire started in a duplex apartment crossing the second and third floors. He said firefighters arrived at the apartment door open, which is believed to have contributed to the rapid spread of the blaze.
An investigation is underway on the incident.