A large fire in an apartment building in the Bronx in New York City killed at least 19 people on Sunday, including nine children.
A total of 63 people were injured in the fire, with 32 being sent to hospitals in “life-threatening condition,” Daniel Nigro, NYC’s fire commissioner, told reporters. One member of the fire department was also injured. Most of the injuries were caused by smoke inhalation.
Nigro said the 19-story building, at 333 East 181st Street, caught fire around 11 p.m. The fire broke out in a duplex apartment that was split between the building’s second and third floors, officials said. The door to that unit was left open so that smoke and flames spread quickly through the building.
Nearly 200 firefighters were at the scene. Nigro said the first teams arrived within minutes and found victims “on every floor and in stairs” in “cardiac and respiratory arrest”.
“They were met in the hallway with this fire, very heavy smoke, very heavy fire,” Nigro said. “Units pushed in. The smoke spread over the entire height of the building, which is very unusual. “
Officials said the fire had since been “knocked out”. meaning most of the fire was suppressed. The cause has yet to be determined.
The fire is already one of the deadliest residential fires in recent American history. Another fire in a townhouse in Philadelphia killed a family of 12, including 8 children, on Monday. Officials are investigating whether the fire was caused by a child playing with a lighter near a Christmas tree.
“The numbers are appalling,” New York Mayor Eric Adams told reporters Sunday afternoon. “It’s going to be one of the worst fires we’ve seen in modern times.”