19 people, including nine children and teenagers, were killed and around sixty were injured, in “one of the worst fires we have ever witnessed in our time“, according to the mayor of the city.
At least 19 people, including nine children, died on Sunday and around 60 were injured in an impressive fire in a building in the Bronx district of New York, “one of the worst” in the recent history of the megacity, announced the mayor of the city Eric Adams.
Victims were found on each floor of the 19-storey brick building, with smoke rising to the top of the building as the fire started in a duplex apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors, according to the firefighters.
“This is going to be one of the worst fires in our history. We know that we have 19 people dead as well as several others in critical condition and more than 63 people injured., said the mayor of New York live on television. The new mayor of New York, an African-American former police officer who took office on January 1, spoke of a “true tragedy not just for the Bronx and the city”.
Subsequently, Eric Adams confirmed on Twitter the loss of “nine innocent young lives”, nine children and teenagers among the 19 people who died.
Earlier, Billy Goldfeder, Deputy Fire Chief of New York, had published images, very shared on social networks, of the fire and the ongoing operation of his team, on his Twitter account, evoking “many casualties”. Immense flames and a thick release of black smoke escaped in the morning from a window of a multi-storey building in the Bronx, a huge district in northern New York.
George King, a resident of a nearby building told AFP of a scene of “chaos”: “I have lived here for 15 years, this is the first time I have seen something like this”. He said he had “saw smoke, many people panicked” and “nobody wanted to jump from the building”.
A resident on the 11th floor of the building, Miguel Enrique, testified to AFP, saying he was “asthmatic” and just had time to “take a coat and go down the elevator” because the hallway was black with smoke.
200 firefighters on site
New York firefighters, called to the scene around 11 a.m. (4 p.m. GMT), had initially announced a toll of around thirty injured and had brought the disaster under control in two hours. Two hundred firefighters intervened on this 19-storey building of the HLM type. Many windows were broken, probably by residents trying to avoid asphyxiation.
According to New York Fire Chief Daniel Nigro on the spot, the fire started in a duplex apartment. “on the second and third floors”. The soldiers of fire “found themselves facing the fire in the corridors: a lot of smoke, a very heavy fire”, did he declare.
Daniel Nigro explained that “the smoke extended the full height of the building, which is totally unusual” and that its firefighters “found victims on each floor and evacuated them in cardiac and respiratory arrest”.
An auxiliary heater at the origin of the fire
Investigators “determined on the basis of material clues and the first testimonies of inhabitants that the fire started from a bedroom and an auxiliary heating”, said Daniel Nigro, during a press briefing at the foot of this HLM-type building in this huge working-class district of the Bronx.
Dozens of people were injured“during the tragedy, including at least 32 hospitalized.
Last Wednesday, a terrible fire in an apartment building in Philadelphia killed 12 people, including eight children.
New York, a megalopolis of nine million inhabitants, suffers in various neighborhoods from a huge housing crisis, with sometimes dilapidated and poorly maintained buildings.