At least 19 killed in New York fire apartment block blaze

By Rek Hanibal Published on January 10, 2022
At least 19 killed in New York fire apartment block blaze

Another 32 people were sent to the hospital, several of whom are in critical condition, according to New York Mayor Eric Adams. Fire department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said they had found victims on every floor of the 19-storey block, saying the smoke was "unprecedented".

He told the news that the death toll was the worst seen in New York for 30 years. It comes days after an apartment fire in Philadelphia killed 12, with eight children among the dead. Sunday's fire broke out in an apartment that spans the second and third floors of the Bronx apartment block at about 11:00 local time (16:00 GMT), officials said.

Some 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze, which officials believe sparked a malfunctioning electric heater. Commissioner Nigro said there were two fire floors, but the smoke had spread everywhere.

The door to the apartment where the fire started was left open, and smoke then spread to every floor, Commissioner Nigro told reporters." Members found victims on every floor in stairwells and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest," he said.

George King, who lives nearby, told news agency people were waving from the windows as the flames took hold." I saw the smoke, a lot of people were panicking," he said. "You could see that no one wanted to jump from the building."

"The impact of this fire is going to bring a level of pain and despair to our city," Mr Adams told reporters. "The numbers are horrific."New York Governor Kathy Hochul called Sunday's events "a night of tragedy" and pledged to create a victims' compensation fund to support survivors.

"There will be money to find new housing, burial costs and whatever we need because that's what we do here in New York," Ms Hochul said. The area of the Bronx where the fire occurred is home to a large Muslim immigrant population and many of those affected by the blaze is believed to have originally come to the US from the Gambia.

Mr Adams urged anyone impacted by the fire to seek assistance from the authorities, irrespective of immigration status. He assured residents that their details would not be passed on to immigration services. Speaking alongside Mr Adams, New York Senator Chuck Schumer pledged to provide immigration support to allow families to come together to grieve.

The building hosts several affordable housing apartments, and the blaze is likely to raise questions over the quality of such units in the city. Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democratic lawmaker whose district includes the building, told the US network MSNBC that developments such as the Bronx fire 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," Mr Torres said.

Rek Hanibal

Rek Hanibal

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