Nine children among 19 killed in apartment blaze in New York

9 January 2022, 20:46 | Updated: 10 January 2022, 10:33

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which claimed the lives of at least 19 people
Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which claimed the lives of at least 19 people. Picture: Getty

By Patrick Grafton-Green

At least 19 people, including nine children, have been killed in an apartment fire in New York City.

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New York mayor Eric Adams called the fire "horrific", adding: "This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times."

A faulty heater was the cause of the blaze, according to officials.

More than 60 people were injured and 13 people were still in critical condition in the hospital, Stefan Ringel, a senior adviser to the mayor, said.

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Images from the scene show firefighters using a ladder to enter the upper floors of the burning building, with children being carried out and given oxygen and evacuees with their faces covered in soot.

The majority of victims were suffering from severe smoke inhalation, the city's fire department commissioner Daniel Nigro, said at a press conference.

About 200 firefighters responded to the scene at the Bronx's Twin Park apartments, a 19-storey building on East 181st Street, the fire department said.

Firefighters "found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest", Commissioner Nigro added.

Broken windows and charred bricks mark the exterior of a 19-story building
Broken windows and charred bricks mark the exterior of a 19-story building. Picture: Getty

He called the incident "unprecedented in our city".

He compared the severity of the fire to the Happy Land social club fire, which killed 87 people in 1990.

According to Commissioner Nigro, Sunday's fire started in a duplex apartment spanning the second and third floors.

Firefighters found the door to the apartment open, he said, which apparently allowed the fire to accelerate and smoke to spread upwards quickly.

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About 200 firefighters responded to the scene at the Bronx's Twin Park apartments
About 200 firefighters responded to the scene at the Bronx's Twin Park apartments. Picture: Getty

A resident of the building, Cristal Diaz, 27, told the New York Post she was drinking coffee in her living room when she smelled the smoke.

"We started putting water on towels and the bottom of the door. Everything was crazy," she said.

"We didn't know what to do. We looked out the windows and saw all the dead bodies they were taking with the blankets."

Sunday's blaze came just days after a Philadelphia house fire killed 12 people, including eight children.