At least 19 people, including nine children, lost their lives in a major fire in New York City on Sunday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has confirmed.
“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,” Xinhua news agency quoted Adams’ tweet as saying.
He thanked the firefighters of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) for bringing into control the fire, which broke out in a residential apartment high-rise building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx.
“An investigation into what happened is under way. To everyone affected by this tragedy: Your city will be with you in the days ahead,” said Adams.
The mayor said earlier on Sunday that the fire was horrific.
“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York, and the impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of just pain and despair in our city,” he told reporters. “This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed during modern times.”
Thirty-two people were sent to hospital in life-threatening conditions. In addition, nine people were also seriously injured and 22 others sustained non-life-threatening injuries. One member of service was also removed to hospital, said Adams.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, who was at the scene together with Adams, said the fire broke out in a duplex apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the apartment building. The door of the apartment was left open, enabling the fire and smoke to spread quickly in the 19-story building.
“This is indeed tragic. Units arrived within three minutes for a call of a fire in a duplex apartment. They were met in the hallway with this fire — very heavy smoke, very heavy fire. Units pushed in. The smoke extended the entire height of the building, which is very unusual. Members found victims on every floor and in stairwells and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” said Nigro.
“That is unprecedented in our city. How the fire started we don’t know yet. It will be investigated by FDNY fire marshals,” he added.