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A 3-year-old boy was playing with the burners on a stove in a first-floor unit when the fire started, according to Nigro.
The child’s mother heard him screaming, and was able to rush him and a 2-year-old out of the unit, but she left the door open, he said.
“This fire quickly spread up the stair,” Nigro said. “The stairway acted like a chimney. It took the fire so quickly up stairs, people had very little time to react. They couldn’t get back down the stairs. Those that tried, a few of them, perished.”
At least 12 people were killed when a fire fueled by gusty winds tore through a century-old apartment building in the Bronx on a frigid Thursday night, New York City officials said. It was the deadliest fire in the city in more than a quarter-century.
The first emergency call came at 6:51 p.m. for a fire in a five-story apartment building at 2363 Prospect Avenue in the Belmont neighborhood, a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said. The department responded in three minutes, the mayor said, and firefighters were able to rescue 12 people.
Based on current information, we are sorry to report at least 12 New Yorkers are dead, including one child as young as 1 year old. Four people are critically injured, fighting for their lives.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 29, 2017
The fire began on the first floor but quickly spread throughout the building, as the wind fed oxygen to the flames. The people who died were on various floors, the fire commissioner, Daniel A. Nigro, said.
More than 160 firefighters responded to the five-alarm blaze near the Bronx Zoo. The inferno broke out at 6:51 p.m. on the first floor and quickly spread upward. Firefighters responded in three minutes, after receiving more than a dozen 911 calls.
The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Sources said the blaze may have been sparked by a space heater, but de Blasio said was too early in the investigation to tell.
A database in the New York City Housing Preservation and Development revealed one of the apartments on the first floor — where the fire started — had open violations for bad carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
FDNY crews are currently battling a four-alarm fire at a residential building in the Bronx. The FDNY says at least 15 people are being evaluated for injuries. pic.twitter.com/QpBQh5WoLA
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) December 29, 2017