Dead In Massive Blaze At Bronx Apartment Building

A fireman with a child at the Bronx apartment block
Darren Bevan A fireman with a child at the Bronx apartment block

31 December, 2017

Investigators have determined a deadly fire in a NY apartment building was caused by a child playing with a stove.

The fire started on the first floor and spread quickly, Nigro said earlier.

"The mother was not aware of it, was alerted by the young man screaming", said Daniel Nigro, commissioner for the New York City Fire Department.

The fire, which started on the bottom floor, quickly spread to all five levels of the building. The New York City mayor's press secretary says several people have died in the blaze on a frigid night, and several more have been injured. They couldn't get back down.

City officials said one of the children, a 1-year-old infant, was found in the bathtub with her mother.

At least 20 people scrambled out via fire escapes on a bitterly cold night, but others could not.

Fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel work on the scene of an apartment fire in Bronx, New York, U.S. December 28, 2017. He was staying with a family that escaped the fire safely, but no one could find Mensah, despite checking four hospitals.

The fire department said over 160 firefighters were on the scene.

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"I was calling my daughter to see where she is-accidentally she [was] upstairs at her aunt's".

"I don't know what to do, how to feel - I'm just numb", Fernando Batiz told CBC's Steven D'Souza. Children without coats huddled on fire escapes as firefighters worked through icy conditions to bring the flames under control in about two hours. Still, his family pounded the pavement, asking about him and hoping for good news.

According to city records, the building had no elevator. One violation was for a broken smoke detector in an apartment on the first floor that was reported in August.

"There's still around 10 families we have not connected with yet", said Michael de Vulpillieres, a Red Cross spokesman. Investigators will look at whether the door to the apartment was defective or if an obstruction prevented it from closing, he said.

Police and relatives have identified five of the victims in the blaze on Prospect Avenue near East 187th Street, which is near the Bronx Zoo: 2- and 7-year-old Kylie and Charmela Francis, and their 37-year-old mother Karen Francis; 19-year-old Shantay Young; and 58-year-old Maria Batiz.

While the doors are required in any apartment building with more than three units, they sometimes do not work properly because they get clogged or dirty, NY fire-safety consultant Jim Bullock said.

"It seems like a disgusting, tragic accident", Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview with WNYC radio.

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