Nineteen people were killed, including nine children, and dozens were injured from an apartment building fire in The Bronx borough of New York City on Sunday, according to city officials.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams confirmed 19 people had died from the blaze that broke out around 11am in a 19-floor apartment building.
Earlier on Sunday, officials said 32 people had been hospitalised with life-threatening injuries and some 60 people were injured in total.
“We’ve lost 19 of our neighbours today. It’s a tragedy beyond measure. Join me in praying for those we lost, especially the 9 innocent young lives that were cut short,” Adams wrote on Twitter.
We’ve lost 19 of our neighbors today. It’s a tragedy beyond measure. Join me in praying for those we lost, especially the 9 innocent young lives that were cut short. https://t.co/YWQyBLyLK8
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) January 9, 2022
A Reuters photographer at the scene on Sunday saw emergency responders performing CPR on at least eight people in front of the building. Firefighters with hose lines were working to push smoke out of the building, and one of them was seen breaking a window on an upper floor to release the fumes.
The blaze was still under investigation, the city’s fire department commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters at a news briefing.
Nigro said the smoke had spread to every floor of the building, likely because the door to the apartment where it started was left open, and that victims had suffered from significant smoke inhalation.
“Members found victims on every floor in stairwells and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” he said.
Some 200 firefighters helped put out the blaze, and some ran out of oxygen in their tanks but pushed through anyway to rescue people from the building, Adams told CNN on Sunday.
This was the second major deadly fire in a residential complex in the US this week after twelve people, including eight children, were killed early on Wednesday when flames swept through a public housing apartment building in Philadelphia.
“I am horrified by the devastating fire in the Bronx today. My heart is with the loved ones of all those we’ve tragically lost, all of those impacted and with our heroic @FDNY firefighters,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted on Sunday.