- Several survivors were in critical condition and authorities warned the death toll could rise.
- A faulty radiator apparently started the 5-alarm fire.
- The building is fitted with smoke detectors, but several residents said they ignored the warning because alarms go off so often.
NEW YORK – Dozens of people remained in hospital on Monday after the country’s deadliest apartment fire in nearly 40 years swept through a building in the Bronx, killing 19 people, including nine children.
Several survivors were in critical condition and authorities warned the death toll could rise.
A faulty radiator apparently started the 5-alarm fire on Saturday in the 19-story building, and firefighters found victims on every floor, many in cardiac and respiratory arrest, Fire Marshal Daniel Nigro said.
Mayor Eric Adams, who has described the blaze as one of the “worst fires of modern times”, ordered the flags to remain at their waist until sunset Wednesday in remembrance of the victims.
“It’s a horrible day for all New Yorkers, if not for the whole country,” Adams said Monday. “Hello America.”
“We just now want to give families the support they deserve.”
RESIDENTIAL FIRES IN THE UNITED STATES HAVE DECREASED: Bronx Blaze reminds us of how dangerous they can be.
The heater has started a 5 alarm fire
Nigro said the fire “started in a faulty electric heater” in a bedroom of a duplex apartment on the second and third floors of the 19-story Twin Parks North West complex in the West Bronx.
The apartment door was left open, allowing smoke to quickly spread throughout the building, Nigro said. Trapped residents smashed windows to bring in air and stuffed wet towels under the doors to prevent smoke billowing into the building
Smoke, not flames, responsible for most injuries
Nigro said 63 people were injured by “severe smoke inhalation” and 32 were admitted to five hospitals in the area. The flames were confined to two floors, but smoke billowed through the open door of the apartment and obscured the stairwells with thick, unbreathable fog. The city requires the doors to close automatically, and Adams said in an interview on CNN that the Twin Parks building has such doors. Investigators are trying to determine why that door did not close, he said.
The death toll could rise, he said.
“We have several people in critical condition right now,” Adams said Monday on CNN. “We pray to God that they will be able to get through this.”
Twin Parks has smoke detectors but no sprinklers
The building is equipped with smoke alarms, but several residents said they ignored the warning because alarms go off so often in the 120-unit building.
Large and new apartment buildings in the city must have sprinkler systems and interior doors that close automatically to contain smoke and deprive fires of oxygen, but these rules do not apply to thousands of apartment buildings. oldest in town.
The Twin Parks complex was built in 1973 as part of a modern, affordable housing project in the Bronx.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN: Faulty radiator sparked Bronx fire, the city’s deadliest blaze in decades
The deadliest fire since the fire at the Happy Land social club in the 1990s
The blaze was the city’s deadliest since 1990, when 87 people died in an arson attack at the Happy Land social club, also in the Bronx. The fire, however, was ruled as arson and the man convicted of starting it, Julio González, was sentenced to 25 years in life imprisonment.
Earlier today, González had a heated argument with his girlfriend, who worked at the club. Authorities said González, who died in prison, also blocked the club’s only exit.
Bronx fire killed 13 in 2017
The borough was also the focus of a fatal apartment building fire in 2017 that killed 13 people and a fire in 2007, also started by a radiator, which left nine people dead. The New York City Council then passed ordinances requiring self-closing doors and child-resistant buttons in apartments.
Heroism in the face of tragedy
Firefighters continued to perform rescues even after their air supply was exhausted, Adams said.
“Their oxygen tanks were empty and they were still pushing through the smoke,” Adams said.
“Devastated” building owners promise to cooperate with investigation
The owner of the building, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, released a statement saying the company is fully cooperating with the investigation.
“We are devastated by the unimaginable loss of life caused by this profound tragedy,” the statement read. “We are cooperating fully with the fire department and other agencies in the city as they investigate its cause, and we are doing all we can to help our residents. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives. or have been injured, and we’re here to support them as we recover from this horrific fire. ”
Bacon reported from Arlington, Va. Contributing: Jordan Mendoza and Cady Stanton, USA TODAY; The Associated Press