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At least 19 dead and dozens injured in NYC Bronx apartment fire

NYC mayor: This is going to be one of our worst fires in history
01:15

What we're covering here

  • At least 19 people, including nine children, are dead and dozens are injured after a major fire impacted a Bronx apartment building Sunday, New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams said.
  • The blaze was caused by a malfunctioning space heater, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday.
  • The blaze sent 32 people to hospitals with life-threatening conditions, Nigro said earlier Sunday.
  • Adams said a total of 63 people were injured. “The numbers are horrific,” he said.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about the fire here.

22 Posts

HUD Secretary tweets condolences for Bronx fire and says department is ready to assist

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge expressed her sympathies for the fire that claimed 19 lives today in the Bronx.

Bronx apartment building residents being housed in a middle school next door, fire official says

A man wearing a blanket is seen at the scene of a fatal fire at an apartment building in the Bronx. (Jeenah Moon/AP)

Christina Farrell, first deputy commissioner of NYC emergency management, told CNN’s Phil Mattingly Sunday that residents who lived in the Bronx apartment building are now being housed at a middle school next door.

“We have all the residents here. We’ve been able to give them food, a warm space, water, any short-term needs that they had. People brought their pets and so we are in the process of finding people shelter this evening,” Farrell said. “We work with the Red Cross, we have hotel rooms and have other resources available. And so we will be making sure every family has a safe, warm space to sleep in tonight.”

A service center will be set up Monday, Farrell said.

“We’ll be hopeful that many of them will be able to go back into their apartment in the coming days,” she said. “But for the people that are out long-term, we will work with them and the state to get them appropriate housing.”

Farrell also confirmed what Mayor Eric Adams previously said about the names of building residents seeking government assistance not being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Many people impacted from the fire are Muslim and from Gambia, a small nation on the east coast of Africa.

“This is not about anyone’s status or where anyone came from, this is about New Yorkers that are in need, that need services and we’re able to provide those services while everyone deals with their grief,” Farrell said.

Covid-19 related staffing challenges 'played absolutely no role' in the FDNY’s response to the 5-alarm fire, FDNY commissioner says

 New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro addresses the media in the aftermath of a deadly fire at a 19-story building on January 9, in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Covid-19 related staffing challenges “played absolutely no role” in the FDNY’s response to the 5-alarm fire in the Bronx, fire commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters. 

“It’s a challenge, but every one of our units is fully staffed – fire and EMS,” he said.

The 19-story residential building – built in 1972 – was federally funded, so it could have potentially been built outside of the New York City fire code, Nigro added. However, that didn’t play a factor in Sunday’s fire, he said.

FDNY Commissioner says many firefighters ran out of oxygen while fighting the Bronx apartment fire

An aerial view of the apartment building after a deadly fire in the Bronx, on Sunday.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters Sunday there were no fire escapes on the apartment building that went up in flames, but there were stairways for escape.

“The residents should know where the stairwells are and I think some of them could not escape because of the volume of smoke,” Nigro said. “I believe there’s 120 apartments in the building. There’s a very large number of people right now who need a place to stay.”

He added fighting the fire was a very difficult job for rescue crews on scene.

“Smoke and heat travel upward, that we know – that’s what happened here,” Nigro said.

Politicians react to Bronx fire

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her reaction to Sunday’s fire in the Bronx. Ocasio-Cortez represents part of the Bronx, but not the part where the fire took place.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also tweeted about the Bronx fire Sunday.

Names of Bronx fire victims who ask for government assistance will not be turned over to ICE, NYC mayor says

A worker who clean debris walks outside the scene after a deadly fire at an apartment building in the Bronx, on Sunday.

The names of individuals who request government assistance following the five-alarm fire in the Bronx’s “heavy immigrant community” will not be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference Sunday.

“If you need assistance, your names will not be turned over to ICE or any other institution. We want people to be comfortable in coming forward, and it’s imperative that we connect with those on the ground to make sure they get that message and that word out,” Adams said.

The mayor said the city would utilize Muslim leaders to connect with residents, as many people impacted from the fire are Muslim and from The Gambia, a small nation on the east coast of Africa.

Rep. Ritchie Torres says housing in the Bronx is 'quite old'

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a fatal fire at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday.

Torres told CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday housing in the Bronx is quite old.

The apartment building that caught fire Sunday was built in the 1970s, but Torres says there are many buildings in the borough even older.

“Not every building has a sprinkler system. Not every building has a functioning alarm. Not every building has a self-closing door. Many buildings lack what we would consider 21st century standards of fire safety,” Torres said.

Rep. Ritchie Torres says he's skeptical about space heaters because they're a fire hazard

Residents take refuge at a school cafeteria after a fire erupted at their apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday.

Torres told CNN’s Jim Acosta he’s skeptical of space heaters.

Torres said officials have to warn people about the fire hazards that come with the use of space heaters.

“We have to entrust upon people the need to close the door in the event there’s a fire to prevent it from spreading,” he said. “And we have to ensure these federally-funded developments comply with local fire code.”

Rep. Ritchie Torres: 'I'm in a state of shock'

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx, on Sunday.

Rep. Ritchie Torres, who was born and raised in the Bronx and whose district covers much of the South Bronx, told CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday, “I’m in a state of shock.”

“The Bronx has been the scene of three catastrophic fires in the last 30 years,” Torres said.

“I have constituents who have seen the world around them collapse. They’ve lost their children, their whole families, their homes,” Torres added.

Torres said Sunday’s fire is a “level of trauma and tragedy most of us will never know, and it’s going to take a long time to not only provide these families with temporary shelter, but to connect them to counseling and mental health services and enable them to recover from what has been an unspeakable tragedy.”

FDNY Commissioner: Building built in 1972

A ladder leads up to a window after a fatal fire at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the apartment building that went up in flames Sunday was built in 1972.

The building is located in the Fordham neighborhood of in Bronx Borough and falls under New York City’s 15th City Council District represented by Oswald Feliz.

There have not been any major building violations or complaints listed against the 19-story building, according to NYC Building records.

Past minor violations were rectified by the property and there were no structural violations listed.

While the building has seven complaints and 14 violations, there is only one complaint and one violation open, with the one complaint having been filed by NYC Emergency Management requesting that the property owner conduct a structural stability inspection due to the fire.

The one open violation against the building structure is the failure to display energy efficiency score and energy efficiency grade as per the city’s building code.

Sen. Chuck Schumer: 'At the federal level, we’ll do whatever we can'

Firefighter rescues people after a fire broke out in a building located in the Bronx, on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thanked the firefighters who battled flames in the Bronx apartment fire Sunday.

“They always rush to danger,” he said. “They don’t worry about themselves, they just go in there.”

Schumer added it was sad to think of the children, families and immigrants who lived in the building.

“It’s such a tragedy, thinking of children, thinking of families, thinking of so many people in this building, immigrants driving to climb that ladder up, and their lives snuffed out,” he said.

Schumer said federal officials will do whatever they can.

“At the federal level, we’ll do whatever we can,” he said. “There is housing assistance, there is tax assistance, and maybe most important in this instance, immigration assistance so families can be united because many of these families have come from overseas and need to be here.”

FDNY Commissioner: 'This fire started in a bedroom in a portable electric heater.'

The scene of a deadly fire at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the fire began in an apartment that spans two floors – the second and third floor of the building.

“The door to that apartment – unfortunately when the residents left – was left open, it did not close by itself. The smoke spread throughout the building, thus the tremendous loss of life and people fighting for their lives right now in hospitals all over the Bronx,” Nigro said.

“The marshals have determined through physical evidence and through first-hand accounts through residents that this fire started in a bedroom in a portable electric heater.”

NY Governor announces victims' compensation fund

The scene of a deadly fire in the Bronx on Sunday.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the creation of a victims’ compensation fund.

“There will be money to find new housing, burial costs and whatever we need because that’s what we do here in New York,” she said.

Mayor Eric Adams: 'It appears as though this stemmed from a space heater.'

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, third right, at the scene where a deadly fire occurred in the Bronx on Sunday.

“When there is a crisis in this city or state, we are in this together … And we won’t succeed if we’re not united,” Adams said during a news conference.

Adams confirmed the building had a large Muslim population – with many residents from The Gambia – in the building.

“It appears as though this stemmed from a space heater,” he said.

Former FDNY Commissioner says it appears fire traveled up the stairwell and onto different floors because of open doors

Thomas Von Essen, former FDNY Commissioner, speaks with CNN's Jim Acosta on Sunday, January 9, 2022.

Thomas Von Essen, former FDNY Commissioner, told CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday the fire at the Bronx apartment building traveled up the building as a result of stairwells and open doors.

“There had to be doors left open on different floors otherwise you wouldn’t get that volume of smoke on the upper floors,” Von Essen said.

He added the cause of the fire, at this point, had to be something in an individual apartment.

“It would be contained to that apartment, some of the tenants already said, if it hadn’t been allowed out of the apartment. The doors are fireproof, the stairs are fireproof because they’re pretty safe buildings,” Von Essen said.

“It just looks like a tragic panicking by a lot of the folks,” he said. “People were in the stairwells, that’s like being in a chimney being overcome, and you just can’t get to them fast enough to save them, so I would imagine that they’re going to find a lot of these severely injured people in stairwells and some of the other folks on floors where the doors were left open.”

Building resident says fire alarm in building was always going off

Chanasia Hunter lives on the 10th floor of the Bronx apartment complex that went up in flames on Sunday, January 9, 2022.

Chanasia Hunter lives on the 10th floor of the Bronx apartment building that went up in flames Sunday.

She told CNN affiliate WABC it is not unusual to hear the fire alarm go off in their apartment complex. She says it’s something residents are used to hearing.

She said the only way she found out the fire alarm was legitimate was when a person who lived on the third floor – where the flames were burning – called her.

“I looked out the back of the window and that’s where we see the fire just fighting outside the window, and they have to break open the windows to let people out,” Hunter said.

“We heard screaming, we saw the windows bursting out … We saw people getting saved,” she said.

Hunter said she was able to escape because officials knocked on her door. She said smoke was coming into people’s apartments.

“I was coming down the stairs and saw a body sitting on the floor. This is crazy, this building has been here for years and this has never happened before,” she said.

“I’m just sad because this is like a family,” she said. “We lost a lot of lives, and it hurts very bad, especially children and even elders. I see these people every day, it’s hurtful.”

Building resident: 'That smoke really hit me ... I thought I went blind'

Daisy Mitchell speaks with CNN affiliate WABC on Sunday, January 9, 2022.

Daisy Mitchell is a building resident of the residential apartment building in the Bronx that went up in flames Sunday. She lives on the 10th floor.

“I just hear people banging on doors saying ‘it’s a fire, it’s a fire,’ so I ain’t pay it no mind, but then when we opened that door the smoke just hit us, and we ran to the hallway to the exit and I just panicked, I got scared, even with the mask on,” Mitchell told CNN affiliate WABC.

Mitchell showed reporters her hands, which were blackened from smoke. She said she got smoke up her nose.

She said she didn’t understand why she needed to leave her apartment if she’s on the 10th floor, when the fire took place on the second and third floor.

“A lot of people didn’t even come out of their apartment. It’s crazy,” she said.

Mitchell told WABC she was really scared leaving her apartment.

Sen. Chuck Schumer reacts to Bronx fire

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted Sunday the fire in the Bronx was “horrifying and heartbreaking.”

New York governor tweets "I am horrified" by Bronx fire

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted on Sunday that she is “horrified” by the fire in the Bronx today.

Read the tweet:

19 dead, including 9 children, in Bronx fire, NYC mayor says

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx, on January 9 in New York. (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

Nineteen people have died as a result of the fire in the Bronx Sunday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a televised interview with CNN. 

The 19 dead include nine children, a city official with direct knowledge tells CNN’s Brynn Gingras.

At least 32 people were transported from the scene to local hospitals in “life-threatening condition,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in an earlier press conference.

The 19 dead are from the 32 that left the scene in life-threatening condition.

32 people transported to hospital in "life-threatening condition" from Bronx fire, FDNY commissioner says

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx, on January 9 in New York. (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

At least 32 people were transported from the scene to local hospitals in “life-threatening condition,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a news conference following the 5-alarm fire in the Bronx.

FDNY units arrived on scene within three minutes of receiving the call of “a fire that was in a duplex apartment that spanned floors two and three,” Nigro said, adding, firefighters were met by fire in the hallways of the building – “very heavy smoke, very heavy fire.”

FDNY members “found victims on every floor in stairways. They were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Officials haven’t confirmed any potential death toll from Sunday’s fire, but note the deadliest fire in New York City took place in 1990, when 87 people died in a blaze at the Happy Land social club.

Over all – and as reported earlier – at least 54 people are injured as a result of Sunday’s fire.

New York City mayor: At least 63 people are injured following the 5-alarm fire in the Bronx

Broken windows and charred bricks mark the exterior of a 19-story residential building after a fire erupted in the morning on January 9, in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Scott Heins/Getty Images)

At least 63 people are injured following the 5-alarm fire in the Bronx, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a news conference Sunday afternoon.

“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York and the impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of just pain and despair in our city,” he said.

 At least 32 people are in life-threatening condition, at least nine people are suffering “serious injuries” and 22 others are also injured.

“The numbers are horrific,” the mayor said.

Go Deeper

Major fire in Bronx apartment building sends 32 people to the hospital, FDNY says

Go Deeper

Major fire in Bronx apartment building sends 32 people to the hospital, FDNY says