The fire that broke out this Sunday (9) in a residential building in the Bronx, New York, probably originated in the electric heater of one of the apartments. The hypothesis was raised by the head of the city’s Fire Department (FDNY), Dan Nigro, during a press conference.
According to the forensics, the flames would have started in the room of a duplex between the second and third floors of the tower with 19 floors and 120 units. Upon leaving the apartment, the occupants of the apartment left the door open, which contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.
So far, there are 19 dead – nine of them minors – and 30 hospitalized, some in a very serious condition. The fire is considered the most serious in recent New York history , compared by Nigro to the 1990 incident at the Happy Land club, in which 87 people died.
The Mayor Eric Adams pointed out that there could be many Gambians among the victims, as this is an area of the Bronx where the African community is the majority, and promised that all would be buried respecting their traditions.
One of the building’s residents told CNN that the building had a fire alarm that went off frequently and always for no apparent reason, which may have contributed to the fact that today the residents of the 120 apartments in the 19-story block did not take the signal seriously. .
When questioned, the fire chief could not confirm the information, but said his department received a first warning shortly after the fire started and arrived at the scene three minutes later.
Two hundred firefighters were involved in rescuing the residents, who are being relocated to nearby hotels and other public buildings, Nigro said, noting that his agents continued to evacuate intoxicated people even after they ran out of air.
Officials evacuated people “on all floors”, many with cardiac and respiratory arrest, Nigro told reporters.
The worst such event ever recorded in the Big Apple took place in 1911 at a factory in lower Manhattan, in which 146 people died.
“The numbers are horrible,” added Adams, who lived through the first major drama of his term as mayor, which began on January 1.
Today’s fire was the second large-scale fire in less than a week in the United States, after the one recorded last Wednesday in a residential building in Philadelphia , in which 12 people died, including eight children.
In the Bronx, many residents were saved by firefighters through the building’s windows, as can be seen in images posted on social media and according to reports from several survivors to local media.
“I was screaming: help me! Please come and get us!” Wesley Patterson, a 28-year-old man who lives on the third floor of the building, told The New York Times and was rescued via a ladder.
Cristal Diaz, another resident, told the New York Post that when she started to smell smoke, she put wet towels on the door: “We didn’t know what to do. We looked out the windows and saw all the bodies being pulled out with sheets.”
“I am horrified by the devastating fire in the Bronx today. My heart goes out to the loved ones of all those we have tragically lost, to all those affected and to our heroic firefighters,” New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said via Twitter