NEW YORK: At least 12 people were killed in a blaze at a Bronx apartment building on Thursday night in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the city’s worst fire tragedy in a quarter-century.
The dead included four children: a 1-year-old girl, a 2-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl and an unidentified boy.
Four other people were critically injured when the fire broke out on the first floor of the five-story building shortly before 7 p.m. ET.
De Blasio described the fire as “an unspeakable tragedy.” He warned that the death toll could rise.
“In the middle of the holiday season, a time when families are together, tonight here in the Bronx there are families that have been torn apart,” the mayor said. “Based on the information we have now, this will rank as one of the worst losses of life to a fire in many, many years.”
Firefighters rescued at least 12 people with first responders dealing with temperatures in the teens and wind making it feel like the single digits, NBC New York reported.
Maria Bonilla lives a block away and was outside waiting to hear word on a friend’s 8-month-old child.
“There was a lot of people coming out in stretchers, burned,” she told reporters at the scene. “There was fire, really bad fire. It was crazy.”
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the fire began on the first floor and quickly spread upstairs into the building, which has 25 apartments. Victims were found on various floors, he said.
“In a department that’s certainly no stranger to tragedy, we’re shocked by this loss,” Nigro said. “This tragedy is without question historic in its magnitude here, and our hearts go out to every family that lost a loved one here and everyone that’s fighting for their lives.”