NY apart­ment fire is dead­li­est in 27 years

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

NEW YORK — In­ves­ti­ga­tors searched early on Fri­day for the cause of a blaze that ripped through an apart­ment build­ing in the bor­ough of the Bronx, killing at least 12 peo­ple in­clud­ing an in­fant, in the city’s dead­li­est fire in over a quar­ter of a cen­tury.

The fire broke out be­fore 7 pm on Thurs­day on the first floor of a brick build­ing and quickly spread up­stairs, city Fire Com­mis­sioner Daniel Ni­gro said at a news con­fer­ence with Mayor Bill de Bla­sio.

“We’re here at the scene of an un­speak­able tragedy. In the mid­dle of the hol­i­day sea­son is a time when fam­i­lies are to­gether. Tonight, here in the Bronx, there are fam­i­lies that have been torn apart,” De Bla­sio said.

Four peo­ple were in the hospi­tal in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, the mayor said. Au­thor­i­ties said fire­fight­ers res­cued 12 peo­ple from the build­ing.

“Peo­ple died on var­i­ous floors of the apart­ments, rang­ing in age from 1 to over 50,” Ni­gro said. “In a de­part­ment that is surely no stranger to tragedy, we’re shocked by the lives lost.”

Two of the dead were found in a bath­tub, ac­cord­ing to ca­ble news sta­tion NY1.

“Peo­ple were scream­ing and that’s how we knew there was trou­ble,” eye­wit­ness Kim­berly Wilkins told WCBS-TV, an af­fil­i­ate of CBS News. “Peo­ple were scream­ing, ‘Fire. Help. Fire. Help.’”

The blaze erupted in the Bel­mont sec­tion of the Bronx, a pri­mar­ily res­i­den­tial, closeknit neigh­bor­hood known as the “Lit­tle Italy” of the bor­ough, ad­ja­cent to the Bronx Zoo and Ford­ham Univer­sity.

Ex­clud­ing the Sept 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks, it was the worst fire in the city since 87 peo­ple were killed at a so­cial club fire in the Bronx in 1990.

New York is go­ing through a bit­ter cold snap and high winds that, ac­cord­ing to one me­dia ac­count, stoked flames in­side the build­ing as res­i­dents flung open doors and win­dows.

Wher­ever fire hoses sprayed, the ground was cov­ered with sheets of ice, ac­cord­ing to an NY1 reporter.

More than 160 fire­fight­ers re­sponded to the four-alarm blaze, the New York City Fire De­part­ment said.

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