Firefighters in empty oxygen tanks tore through smoke from a blaze that swept through a high-rise apartment in the Bronx Sunday morning, killing nearly 20 people, including at least nine children, and injuring dozens more.
A fire official told Fox News there were more than 60 injuries in total, with more than half of those seriously injured.
Among the injured were four firefighters. One of them was seriously injured, although none of his injuries are life-threatening, the fire official said.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday night, Mayor Eric Adams said the firefighters’ oxygen tanks were empty but “still pushing through the smoke.”
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“You can’t do this if you don’t feel attached to this city and this community,” Adams said. “I really want to thank you for putting lives on the line to save lives.”
Adams, along with New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Sen. Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said the fire was caused by a faulty space heater in one of the apartments.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the fire spread through the second and third floors of the 19-story building. The door to the apartment was left open, allowing smoke to quickly spread throughout the building.
“The smoke conditions in this building are unprecedented,” added Nigro, calling it one of the worst fires in the city in recent memory.
Adams said many of the building’s residents were immigrants from the African nation of Gambia and were Muslim. Gov. Hochul said her administration would establish compensation for victims to help with funding for housing and burial.
“Approximately 200 FDNY members are operating at the scene of a 5-alarm fire at 333 East 181 Street in the Bronx,” the New York City Fire Department tweeted early Sunday, adding that there were more than 30 “injured. serious among civilians “.
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Smoke inhalation was the cause of the injuries and no one was burned, according to authorities.
The fire started on the building’s second and third floors in a duplex apartment in the Tremont section of the Bronx, the New York Times reported. The fire started shortly before 11 a.m. M.
Photos posted online showed a rescue ladder extended to an eighth-floor window. More than 30 people were taken to five hospitals, and most of the victims suffered intense smoke inhalation, Nigro said.
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Nigro compared the severity of the fire to the Happy Land social club fire, which killed 87 people in 1990 when a man set the building on fire after having an argument with his ex-girlfriend and being kicked out of the club.
According to Nigro, Sunday’s fire originated in a duplex apartment spanning the second and third floors. Firefighters found the apartment door open, he said, apparently allowing the fire to accelerate and quickly spread smoke upward.
The origin of the fire is not believed to be suspicious, but the cause is under investigation.
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Sunday’s fire comes just days after a fire broke out in a three-story duplex in Philadelphia, killing at least 12 people, including eight children.
The fire occurred on property owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and all four smoke detectors inside the building were not working, according to Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy.
Greg Norman of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.