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NYC investigates door malfunction in Bronx fire that killed at least 19

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a fatal fire in a building in the Bronx. | Yuki Iwamura / AP Photo

City officials are investigating maintenance issues that could have prevented an apartment door from automatically closing and allowed a deadly fire to spread through the Bronx, Mayor Eric Adams said on Monday.

The Bronx building fire on Sunday killed at least 19 people, including nine children. It was New York City’s deadliest fire in decades.

The fire was caused by a faulty radiator and spread because an apartment door was left open, authorities said. City law, passed in response to previous deadly fires, requires apartment buildings to have self-closing doors.

” The case is still ongoing. The fire marshals will conduct a very thorough and comprehensive investigation, ”Adams said on ABC’s“ Good Morning America ”.

“It seems that the possibility of spreading smoke is due to the door being open. We have a law, as has been mentioned, that it should shut down automatically, ”Adams said. “There may have been a maintenance issue with this door, and that will be part of the ongoing investigation.”

Key context: The death toll in the Bronx fire is the worst since the 1990 fire at the Happy Land social club, in which 87 people were killed.

Adams said there were no outstanding heat complaints in the building when asked why tenants use heaters to stay warm.

However, records from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development show four previous complaints about the lack of heat from February through December 2021.

The Bronx building is owned by a group of investors including Camber Property Group. Camber co-founder Rick Gropper has been named as a contributor to Adams’ Housing Transition Team, The New York Times first reported.

Authorities are also investigating reports that the building’s fire alarms often malfunctioned and went off without cause, Adams said.

He said there were self-closing doors installed in the building, but the door to the apartment where the fire started may have malfunctioned.

The city also plans to air public service announcements urging people to close their doors when evacuating a building in the event of a fire, Adams said.

And after: The mayor predicted that further changes would be made to fire codes and legislation in response to the fire, similar to the Happy Land blaze more than three decades ago.

“We learned from this. We have made changes to our laws and our building code. We will also learn from this moment, ”he told CNN.


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