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Fire in NYC Building Leaves 19 People Dead, Including Nine Children

Fire in NYC Building Leaves 19 People Dead, Including Nine Children
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By Staff, Agencies

Nineteen people were killed, including nine children, and dozens were injured in an apartment fire in the Bronx in New York on Sunday, one of the worst fire catastrophes in the city in 30 years.

According to officials, 32 people were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and some 60 people were injured in total.

“The numbers are horrific. This is a horrific, painful moment for the city of New York. The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in our city,” said Eric Adams, the mayor.

“This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times.”

The blaze started around 11 a.m. in the imposing 19-floor Twin Parks North West building which provided affordable housing units.

Adams said a number of immigrants, many from Gambia, were caught up in the fire.

“This is a heavy immigrant community,” Adams said. “And we want to make sure the residents know that if you need assistance your names will not be turned over to ICE [Immigration Customs Enforcement], any other institution. We want people to be comfortable coming forward.”

The fire commissioner, Dan Nigro, said a "malfunctioning electric space heater" was the source of the blaze.

It started in a duplex on the second and third floors and only made it to the hall, he said, adding, however, smoke still spread to every floor of building, likely because the door to the apartment was left open.

Firefighters “found victims on every floor in stairwells and were taking them out in respiratory and cardiac arrest. That is unprecedented in our city,” Nigro said.

Almost all victims suffered smoke inhalation, not burns.

“This fire took its toll on our city,” Nigro said, comparing the blaze to the Happy Land social club fire, which claimed the lives of 87 in 1990.

The disaster is likely to stir questions on safety standards in low-income city housing. This was the second major deadly blaze in a residential complex in the US this week.

Twelve people, including eight children, were killed early on Wednesday when flames swept through a public housing apartment building in Philadelphia.

US Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democrat whose district includes the New York building, called the fire a "tremendous tragedy & loss for our community” in a tweet Sunday.

Torres also told MSNBC that affordable housing developments such as the Bronx one pose safety risks to residents.

"When we allow our affordable housing developments to be plagued by decades of disinvestment, we are putting lives at risk," he said.