Bronx apartment fire kills 19, including 9 children

By DAVID PORTER, BOBBY CAINA CALVAN and MICHELLE L. PRICE

NEW YORK (AP) — A malfunctioning space heater sparked a fire that filled a high-rise Bronx apartment building with thick smoke Sunday morning, killing 19 people including nine children in New York City’s deadliest blaze in three decades.

Trapped residents broke windows for air and stuffed wet towels under doors as smoke rose from a lower-floor apartment where the fire started. Survivors told of fleeing in panic through darkened hallways, barely able to breathe.

Multiple limp children were seen being given oxygen after they were carried out. Evacuees had faces covered in soot.

Firefighters found victims on every floor, many of them in cardiac and respiratory arrest, said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. Some could not escape because of the volume of smoke, he said.

Some residents said they initially ignored wailing smoke alarms because false alarms were so common in the 120-unit building, built in the early 1970s as affordable housing.

More than five dozen people were hurt and 13 were hospitalized in critical condition. The fire commissioner said most of the victims had severe smoke inhalation.

Firefighters continued making rescues even after their air supplies ran out, Mayor Eric Adams said.

“Their oxygen tanks were empty and they still pushed through the smoke,” Adams said.

Investigators said the fire triggered by the electric heater started in a duplex apartment on the second and third floors of the 19-story building.

The flames didn’t spread far — only charring the one unit and an adjacent hallway. But the door to the apartment and a door to a stairwell had been left open, letting smoke quickly spread throughout the building, Nigro said.

  Court date reset for 80-year-old Bay Area man charged with intent to have sex with minor in the Philippines

New York City fire codes generally require apartment doors to be spring-loaded and slam shut automatically, but it was not immediately clear whether this building was covered by those rules.

Building resident Sandra Clayton said she grabbed her dog Mocha and ran for her life when she saw the hallway filling with smoke and heard people screaming, “Get out! Get out!”

Clayton, 61, said she groped her way down a darkened stairway, clutching Mocha in her arms. The smoke was so black that she couldn’t see, but she could hear neighbors wailing and crying nearby.

“I just ran down the steps as much as I could but people was falling all over me, screaming,” Clayton recounted from a hospital where she was treated for smoke inhalation.

In the commotion, her dog slipped from her grasp and was later found dead in the stairwell.

About 200 firefighters responded to the building on East 181st Street around 11 a.m.

Jose Henriquez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who lives on the 10th floor, said the building’s fire alarms would frequently go off, but would turn out to be false.

“It seems like today, they went off but the people didn’t pay attention,” Henriquez said in Spanish.

He and his family stayed, wedging a wet towel beneath the door, once they realized the smoke in the halls would overpower them if they tried to flee.

Luis Rosa said he also initially thought it …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *