Victims were found on every floor of the brick building in the sprawling Bronx neighborhood.
The new mayor of the city, Eric Adams, who came to the scene of the fire, said that it is one of the worst fires in New York history, adding that 19 people were killed, and more than 63 injured were taken to hospitals, some of them in critical condition.
Smoke rose to the top of the 19-storey building after the fire broke out in an apartment, and then spread to the second and third floors, according to firefighters.
New York Fire Department Chief Daniel Negro said firefighters had determined, based on physical evidence and residents’ accounts, that the fire broke out as a result of a malfunction in a portable electric heater in a bedroom.
Negro added – in press statements – that the smoke from the fire continued to spread in the building, probably because the apartment door was left open, and the victims suffered from inhaling thick smoke.
Delene Rodriguez, 38, a resident of the building, and her entire family survived the fire, but she collapsed because of what she saw and heard. “Many children were crying and screaming for help,” she heard from her window, which she opened to avoid suffocation. .
Miguel Enrique – another resident of the building with asthma – recounted how he grabbed a coat and went down the elevator, because the hall was black with smoke.
200 firefighters intervened to put out the fire and managed to do so within two hours.
The firefighting chief said that the firefighters found themselves faced with raging fires in the corridors, strong smoke and very intense fire, and they evacuated the victims from the building, who are in cases of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.
It is noteworthy that a fire broke out last week in a building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, killing 12 people.
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