New York fire commissioner says Person had very little time to react as four children killed in New Yorks deadliest non-terror flame since 1990
A fire in a Bronx apartment building that killed 12 people including four children on Thursday night was caused by a child playing with a stove, authorities said, as New Yorkers absorbed horrific details from the city’s worst single loss of life from a flame since the 9/11 assaults.
The flames spread speedily through the kitchen of a first-floor apartment then roared through a doorway the three-year-old boy’s mother left to as she fled with her two children, New York flame commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
” We were told the boy had a history of played with the burners and turning them on, and before the mother knew it this flame had gotten a good hold of the kitchen ,” Nigro said.
A stairwell acted like a chimney, carrying the flames through the entire five-storey build within minutes and blocking the main escape route.
Many of the victims bodies’ were found in the stairwell and probably died in the three and a half minutes between the first calls to emergency services and the arrival of fire trucks at the 100 -year-old apartment block.
” People had very little time to react and they couldn’t get back back down ,” Nigro said.” Of those that tried, a few of them succumbed. Most of the deaths occurred pretty early, some of them before we could arrive .”
One family lost four members: Karen Stewart-Francis; her daughters, two-year-old Kiley Francis and seven-year-old Kelly Francis; and their cousin, 19 -year-old Shawntay Young, relatives said. Stewart-Francis’ husband, Holt Francis, was hospitalized, the family said.
” I don’t know what to do and I don’t know how to feel ,” said Stewart-Francis’ mom, Ambrozia Stewart.” Four at one time, what do I do ?”
Fernando Batiz said his 56 -year-old sister, Maria Batiz, and her eight-month-old granddaughter also succumbed, though the baby’s mother survived.
New York mayor Bill De Blasio told CNN that first responders saved at least 12 lives. He afterward told WNYC that four survivors were still in serious condition. The New York police department said a son whose age was not devoted was also among the dead.
At least 20 people were climbing down icy metal fire escapes when firefighters arrived, Nigro said. About 170 firefighters worked in freezing temperatures of 15F( -9. 5C ).
Witnesses described find bodies being carried away on stretchers and young girls who had escaped standing barefoot and without coats outside the building. Fire examiners ascertained the deaths were caused by a combination of smoking and burns, Nigro said.
The apartment building, in a neighbourhood near Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo, had 25 units, but was not new enough to have been required to have modern-day fireproofing measures such as sprinkler systems and interior steel construction. According to city records, the building had no elevator.
De Blasio told WNYC” there was nothing problematic about the building that contributed to this misfortune” and said:” The reminder is be very , very careful with your children anywhere near a source of fire … keep them away and create as many obstacles as possible .”
At a press conference at the scene, where ashes and water from efforts to bring the flame under control had frozen into rivers of black ice, the somber flame commissioner acknowledged that children starting fires” was not rare “. Nigro said his department had as many as 100 referrals a year about children who have issues with or are fascinated by fire.
” It’s not unusual but it’s very sad ,” he said.
Excluding the 9/11 assaults, it was the worst fire in New York City since 87 people were killed at a social club in the Bronx in 1990. One of New York’s deadliest flames in recent memory occurred in the Bronx in 2007. Nine children and one adult died in a flame sparked by a space heater.
Louis Solar, a local resident, said the neighbourhood was in shock.
” Nobody could do nothing about it ,” he told the Guardian.” The fire started from the bottom to the top. Can’t do nothing about it .”
Others said much of the housing stock in the borough was old.” They don’t change nothing ,” said Candido Lantigua.” The builds aren’t safe. They’re more than 100 years old .”
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