/Bronx apartment building fire than killed 19 people – including nine kids – caused by SPACE HEATER – Daily Mail

Bronx apartment building fire than killed 19 people – including nine kids – caused by SPACE HEATER – Daily Mail


New York City’s worst fire disaster in more than 30 years was sparked by a faulty space heater, officials confirmed on Sunday night – killing nine children and ten adults, and leaving dozens more critically injured. 

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly before 11am on the second and third floor of a 19-story building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx. 

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that ‘very heavy’ fire and smoke ‘extended the entire height of the building’ and confirmed that a space heater caused the blaze.

‘We are investigating where everyone was found, and how the smoke travelled. But marshals have determined that this fire started in a bedroom, in a portable heater. The heat was on in the building. This was being used to supplement the heat,’ he said. 

Nigro said that the smoke alarms were on, and working, in the 1972-built apartment block. 

‘There were functioning smoke alarms throughout the building,’ he said. ‘The first call was a resident hearing the smoke alarm and reporting it.’

There have not been any major building violations or complaints listed against the building, according to city building records obtained by CNN. Past minor violations were rectified by the property and there were no structural violations listed. 

The New York Post reported that there were more than two dozen violations and complaints since 2013 – despite $25 million in state loans for repairs.

The citations, including for vermin infestation and faulty elevators, came after the 2013 infusion of state cash – and before the building was sold to an investment group two years ago.  

The building was most recently the subject of a DOB complaint on March 25 for not having a working elevator, with a similar complaint filed on April 9, 2019. Another complaint cited scaffolding that did not meet safety standards in 2015.

Several residents said the fire alarms were always going off, and residents ignored them.

‘First we heard the fire alarm go off. Numerous times,’ said Michael Joseph, 32, who lived on the sixth floor with his uncle.  

He told DailyMail.com: ‘But we didn’t think nothing of it, because normally people in the building, they smoke and tend to set it off. So we thought it was probably just people playing.’

He also recounted he and his uncle’s desperate escape, with the scene in the stairwell described as ‘the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen.’   

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed nine children and ten adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed nine children and ten adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City’s worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed nine children and ten adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

The five-alarm blaze, confirmed late on Sunday to have been caused by a space heather, erupted shortly before 11am on Sunday morning in the Bronx (pictured, firefighters at the scene of the tragedy)

The five-alarm blaze, confirmed late on Sunday to have been caused by a space heather, erupted shortly before 11am on Sunday morning in the Bronx (pictured, firefighters at the scene of the tragedy)

The five-alarm blaze, confirmed late on Sunday to have been caused by a space heather, erupted shortly before 11am on Sunday morning in the Bronx (pictured, firefighters at the scene of the tragedy)

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to the fire - New York City's worst in more than 30 years - on Sunday morning

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to the fire - New York City's worst in more than 30 years - on Sunday morning

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to the fire – New York City’s worst in more than 30 years – on Sunday morning

Emergency personnel from the FDNY respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx

Emergency personnel from the FDNY respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx

Emergency personnel from the FDNY respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in the Bronx. More than 200 firefighters responded to the emergency

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in the Bronx. More than 200 firefighters responded to the emergency

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in the Bronx. More than 200 firefighters responded to the emergency

Clean-up crews are pictured outside the Bronx apartment building following Sunday morning's fire

Clean-up crews are pictured outside the Bronx apartment building following Sunday morning's fire

Clean-up crews are pictured outside the Bronx apartment building following Sunday morning’s fire

‘We looked out the window and we saw all the fire people. Firefighters, firefighters, firefighters,’ said Joseph.

‘The smoke came through our door. Our whole house was jet black – smoke so thick we couldn’t breathe.

‘We almost died in there.’

Joseph, who has lived in the apartment for six years, said he and his uncle tried to stem the smoke pouring in.

‘We tried everything – we tried to put a fan on. We tried to stay in the bathroom. Nothing worked,’ he said.

‘So it got to the point where I said, we have to go. We have to do something now, or else we’ll die in here.’

Joseph said he and his uncle decided to make a run for it. 

‘So I finally opened the door – and in the hallway it was all gone. It was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen. So he passed out.

‘So I had to go through the staircase and all you see is people trampling over each other, people getting hurt, stomped on, all kind of things.

‘It was flooded with water and smoke. And I finally got to the bottom and I sent them to get my uncle. That’s why he is alive now.’

Joseph said he was relieved to have survived the ordeal. 

‘They made us wait until the laundromat until it was all clear. We did make it. And they sent us here.’

He said the authorities were helping, and he had been given a hotel for the night.

‘We are getting shelter, food, clothes,’ he said.

‘We have to wait. They are allowing people to go in to get their medication and that’s it.  I just feel so bad for those who lost.’ 

An aerial view of the Bronx apartment block on Sunday evening, as white-clothed investigators continued to work

An aerial view of the Bronx apartment block on Sunday evening, as white-clothed investigators continued to work

An aerial view of the Bronx apartment block on Sunday evening, as white-clothed investigators continued to work

Workers are seen readying to enter the building and begin the cleaning process

Workers are seen readying to enter the building and begin the cleaning process

Workers are seen readying to enter the building and begin the cleaning process

Eric Adams, the mayor of New York, said the whole city was devastated by the loss of life, adding: ‘We’re all feeling this’

Aesha Jones, whose mother Julie Fowler lives on the ninth floor. Jones said that their family escaped unharmed, but family friends lost relatives

Aesha Jones, whose mother Julie Fowler lives on the ninth floor. Jones said that their family escaped unharmed, but family friends lost relatives

Aesha Jones, whose mother Julie Fowler lives on the ninth floor. Jones said that their family escaped unharmed, but family friends lost relatives

Chuck Schumer, senator for New York, speaks on Sunday evening at the scene of the fire, with the governor, Kathy Hochul, beside him and the mayor, Eric Adams, behind him

Chuck Schumer, senator for New York, speaks on Sunday evening at the scene of the fire, with the governor, Kathy Hochul, beside him and the mayor, Eric Adams, behind him

Chuck Schumer, senator for New York, speaks on Sunday evening at the scene of the fire, with the governor, Kathy Hochul, beside him and the mayor, Eric Adams, behind him 

His uncle, Joseph Brannigan, 61, who has terminal cancer, thanked the fire department for saving him. 

‘My nephew said, ‘Joey, we have to get down the stairs, and I said, ‘We can’t. There’s too much smoke in the hallway,” Brannigan told The New York Post.

‘He said, ‘C’mon, we’re going to die in here.’

‘As we tried to get out of the apartment, he grabbed my hand. I lost his hand, and I said, ‘Where are you?’ I collapsed on the floor of my hallway. 

‘Next thing I know, the firemen are dragging me into my apartment. 

‘The firemen smashed all the windows and put oxygen on me.’ 

He said he was overjoyed to have survived. 

‘We won the lottery of life, the big jackpot,’ Brannigan said. 

‘We lost everything in the fire. We lost everything. [But] we are the richest people in the world because we won the lottery of life today.’ 

Chanasia Hunter, who lives on the 10th floor, agreed that the fire alarms would go off frequently.

She told CNN affiliate WABC: ‘How are supposed to know it’s a fire if it’s always going off?’

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.’

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. 

‘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.’ 

Michael Joseph, 32, told DailyMail.com that the stairwell, where he fled the building, was 'the most horrific thing I've ever seen' - with people trampling each other to escape, and the building full of smoke and water

Michael Joseph, 32, told DailyMail.com that the stairwell, where he fled the building, was 'the most horrific thing I've ever seen' - with people trampling each other to escape, and the building full of smoke and water

Dana Campbell said she watched in horror as her six children begged to be rescued from their third-floor apartment

Dana Campbell said she watched in horror as her six children begged to be rescued from their third-floor apartment

Michael Joseph (left), 32, told DailyMail.com that the stairwell, where he fled the building, was ‘the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen’ – with people trampling each other to escape, and the building full of smoke and water. Dana Campbell (right) said she watched in horror as her six children begged to be rescued from their third-floor apartment

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, told those caught up in the fire: 'It's hard to fathom what they are going through. We will not forget you, we will not abandon you - we are here for you

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, told those caught up in the fire: 'It's hard to fathom what they are going through. We will not forget you, we will not abandon you - we are here for you

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, told those caught up in the fire: ‘It’s hard to fathom what they are going through. We will not forget you, we will not abandon you – we are here for you’

Asked whether people knew how to escape, Nigro said: ‘On buildings like this there are no fire escapes. There are interior stairways. So people would have been aware of the exits.

‘I think some of them could not escape due to the volume of smoke.’  

He added: ‘Members found victims on every floor, in stairwells.

‘The last time we had a loss of life that may be this horrific was a fire which was over 30 years ago, also here in the Bronx,’ he added.  

Commissioner Nigro said the door to the apartment where the fire started was left open, which helped fuel the fire and allowed the smoke to spread. 

‘We’ve spread the word, ‘close the door, close the door,’ to keep a fire contained, he said. 

Dana Campbell, a 45-year-old City Parks employee, said that she was not home at the time of the fire, but her six children were inside – and she had to watch from the sidewalk as they screamed for help from the third floor bedroom. 

‘They were trapped in a bedroom screaming for help out the window,’ she told DailyMail.com.

‘I was on the sidewalk and I couldn’t help them.

‘I was watching them screaming for help and I couldn’t help them.’

She said they told her it was ‘horrific’.  

‘It was scary for them. They saw black smoke, they saw flames.’

Campbell said that she was never particularly concerned about the risk of fire, and was proud of her children – the oldest aged 19 – for their quick thinking. 

‘My thought was always that the building was built to not burn. The overall structure is intact, I guess.

‘I never really had concern for fire.

‘We have two smoke detectors.

‘We had a plan, but when it happened I wasn’t home.

‘They started to panic.

‘But they were smart – they put wet towels by the doors, and filled the bath.’

All six escaped unharmed, and are currently sheltering at the Red Cross center. 

Julia Fowler, who lives on the ninth floor, told DailyMail.com that a relative told her to flee. 

‘My sister got an alert from Citizen app, she told me it was a fire,’ said Fowler. 

‘When I looked on Citizen app it was behind my building, and that’s when I saw it. 

‘I heard people screaming ‘fire, fire’ – you know, my sister told me don’t go out

‘I was going to open the door, my sister told me not to. They told us to stay inside. 

‘We saw a lot of people run to the ambulance, rushing.’

She said she was unsure if anyone she knows was affected.

‘It looked as if it started from the back of the building. I told my kids to get up, get dressed, just in case. We had the window open, but the smoke was so heavy, we closed it

‘The fire department banged on the door, asked if we were okay, and said stay inside.

‘I have a 10 year-old, he’s asthmatic, He threw up a little bit. He was shaking.

‘We left after fire department said it was safe. Our apartment wasn’t damaged.’ 

Fowler’s daughter Aesha Jones, 28, who lives in Harlem, said she rushed to the scene on hearing about the fire.

‘I wasn’t here, I saw it on the news and I rushed over,’ she told DailyMail.com.

She said she was terrified for her family, but added: ‘Everyone got out safely, thank God.

‘My sister was actually waking up with flames at her window. Thank God she didn’t get contact with smoke inhalation.

‘I spoke to the mayor, he said the mayor’s office is going to order hotels for the families. Red Cross is out too.

‘A couple of my family’s friends passed away, sadly.’ 

Firefighters are seen on the scene of Sunday's fire

Firefighters are seen on the scene of Sunday's fire

Firefighters are seen on the scene of Sunday’s fire

Firefighters are pictured on the scene as night fell on Sunday

Firefighters are pictured on the scene as night fell on Sunday

Firefighters are pictured on the scene as night fell on Sunday

Firefighters were hampered by icy conditions and the oxygen tanks running empty, the fire commissioner said - but he praised his team for pushing through

Firefighters were hampered by icy conditions and the oxygen tanks running empty, the fire commissioner said - but he praised his team for pushing through

Firefighters were hampered by icy conditions and the oxygen tanks running empty, the fire commissioner said – but he praised his team for pushing through

The 1972 building had 120 apartments, and did have working smoke alarms, officials said

The 1972 building had 120 apartments, and did have working smoke alarms, officials said

The 1972 building had 120 apartments, and did have working smoke alarms, officials said

Cristal Diaz, who lives in the fifth floor of the building, told the New York Post: ‘We didn’t know what to do. We looked out the windows and saw all the dead bodies they were taking with the blankets.’

Diaz’s niece, 13-year-old Alanny, reportedly saw ‘moms fainting at the sight of their kids dying.’ 

Eric Adams, the mayor of New York, paid tribute to the 200 firefighters who responded to the call.  

‘Their oxygen tanks were empty and they still pushed through the smoke,’ he said.

‘You can’t do this unless you’re attached to the city and the community.

‘And I want to thank them.’

Adams said the whole city was devastated by the loss of life.

‘Nineteen deaths. Nine children, babies, that we lost,’ he said.

‘We’re all feeling this.’

He said the city would provide counseling at the schools which were attended by victims and those caught up in the fire, and said the Red Cross and Office of Emergency Management were working to coordinate housing.

‘It’s so important we have faith leaders here,’ he added, noting that Sheikh Musa Drammeh, a Gambia-born Muslim preacher, was on the scene.

‘It was a large Muslim popular. Many came from Gambia,’ said Adams.

He said they will ‘respect the burial rites of the Muslim community, as well as others.’

A GoFundMe set up by Salim Drammeh, another Gambian community organizer, had raised $16,000 in the first two hours. 

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, announced that she was setting up a victims’ compensation fund for those affected by the fire.

‘It’s hard to fathom what they are going through,’ she said.

‘We will not forget you, we will not abandon you – we are here for you.

‘Tonight is a night of tragedy and pain, but tomorrow we begin to rebuilt.’

She said it was particularly poignant for ‘those who came all the way from Africa, in search of a better life right here in this great borough.’ 

Adams stressed that anyone who seeks help should be reassured that they will not be handed over to immigration authorities as a result of coming forward. 

‘Your names will not be turned over to ICE or any other institution,’ Adams said, urging those in need to come forward for assistance.

‘It is imperative we get the word out.’ 

People sit inside a Red Cross Resource Center following the apartment building fire in the Bronx

People sit inside a Red Cross Resource Center following the apartment building fire in the Bronx

People sit inside a Red Cross Resource Center following the apartment building fire in the Bronx

Families who were evacuated with their pets are seen at a shelter in the Bronx following the fire

Families who were evacuated with their pets are seen at a shelter in the Bronx following the fire

Families who were evacuated with their pets are seen at a shelter in the Bronx following the fire

A woman wrapped in a Red Cross blanket is pictured inside a shelter in the Bronx following the fire

A woman wrapped in a Red Cross blanket is pictured inside a shelter in the Bronx following the fire

A woman wrapped in a Red Cross blanket is pictured inside a shelter in the Bronx following the fire

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx, on January 9, 2022, in New York.

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx, on January 9, 2022, in New York.

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx, on January 9, 2022, in New York.

Firefighters stand in front of the apartment building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx

Firefighters stand in front of the apartment building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx

Firefighters stand in front of the apartment building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx

A curtain hangs outside a window at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday. Fire crews pulled out victims out of windows

A curtain hangs outside a window at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday. Fire crews pulled out victims out of windows

A curtain hangs outside a window at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday. Fire crews pulled out victims out of windows

The scene at the fire in the Bronx, which authorities are calling the 'worst in 30 years' in New York City

The scene at the fire in the Bronx, which authorities are calling the 'worst in 30 years' in New York City

The scene at the fire in the Bronx, which authorities are calling the ‘worst in 30 years’ in New York City 

Neighbors watch firefighters from their windows after a deadly fire in the Bronx

Neighbors watch firefighters from their windows after a deadly fire in the Bronx

Neighbors watch firefighters from their windows after a deadly fire in the Bronx

Chuck Schumer, a senator for New York, promised to mobilize Washington to help. 

‘We pledge to do whatever we can at the federal level,’ he said.

‘New Yorkers are united. When there is a tragedy, we stand together.

‘We come together, we embrace each other, and we stand with our brothers and sisters.’

 Harrowing stories were beginning to emerge on Sunday of escape through the burning building.

‘We tried to go down through the stairs but there was a lot of smoke, so we had to stop at the sixth floor and we were able to get into a neighbor’s home. We stayed there until the firefighters came and they were able to guide us out of the building,’ a woman told DailyMail.com. 

‘You couldn’t see anything. It was pitch-black,’ she said, adding that her three-year-old daughter had been momentarily missing amid the chaos.  

The fire at the Twin Parks North West complex quickly progressed. At the scene, firefighters could be seen pulling desperate victims out of windows. 

A hazardous material team was requested to retrieve a lithium ion battery. Fire Marshals are investigating. 

More than 200 firefighters across the borough responded to the scene. 

The FDNY said icy conditions made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blaze.

‘The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in this city,’ Adams said during a press conference early on Sunday, shortly after the blaze was extinguished. 

‘The numbers are horrific. We have over 32 people who are life-threatening at this time. This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed in the City of New York in modern times.’ 

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx borough of New York

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx borough of New York

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx borough of New York

Firefighters rescue victims from the fire in the Bronx on Sunday

Firefighters rescue victims from the fire in the Bronx on Sunday

Firefighters rescue victims from the fire in the Bronx on Sunday 

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly before 11 am on the third floor of a 19-story building at 333 East 181st Street

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly before 11 am on the third floor of a 19-story building at 333 East 181st Street

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly before 11 am on the third floor of a 19-story building at 333 East 181st Street

Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro briefs the press on the horrific fire

Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro briefs the press on the horrific fire

Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro briefs the press on the horrific fire 

It took 200 firefighters an hour to put out the blaze due to the icy conditions

It took 200 firefighters an hour to put out the blaze due to the icy conditions

It took 200 firefighters an hour to put out the blaze due to the icy conditions

Firefighters aid a victim at the scene of the massive fire in Fordham Heights

Firefighters aid a victim at the scene of the massive fire in Fordham Heights

Firefighters aid a victim at the scene of the massive fire in Fordham Heights 

Nineteen were treated at the scene and 35 others have been taken to nearby hospitals, many of whom are in serious conditions, officials said.   

The death toll of Sunday’s fire is set to become the worst in 30 years for New York City, second only to the Happy land club fire in 1990, in which 87 people died after an arsonist used $1 worth of gasoline to set the club on fire. 

Firefighters work at the scene of a fatal fire at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday

Firefighters work at the scene of a fatal fire at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday

Firefighters work at the scene of a fatal fire at an apartment building in the Bronx on Sunday

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx

Firefighters work outside an apartment building after a fire in the Bronx

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly before 11 am on the third floor of the 19-story building

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly before 11 am on the third floor of the 19-story building

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly before 11 am on the third floor of the 19-story building

The smoke conditions in this building are unprecedented,' Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro said

The smoke conditions in this building are unprecedented,' Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro said

‘The smoke conditions in this building are unprecedented,’ Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro said

News photographers at the scene captured images of firefighters entering the upper floors of the burning building on a ladder, multiple limp children being given oxygen after being carried from the building and evacuees with their faces covered in soot.  

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

That was the deadliest fire at a U.S. residential apartment building since 2017, when 13 people died in an apartment in the Bronx, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.

That fire started after a three-year-old boy was playing with stove burners.

The deadliest fire prior to that was in 1989 when a Tennessee apartment building fire claimed the lives of 16 people. 

The commissioner added that the apartment where the fire originated had its door opened, allowing for the blaze to spread throughout the building. 

‘This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the City of New York,’ Adams said.    

Emergency first responders remain at the scene after an intense fire at a 19-story residential building

Emergency first responders remain at the scene after an intense fire at a 19-story residential building

Emergency first responders remain at the scene after an intense fire at a 19-story residential building

The Bronx 5-alarm fire left 19 dead and numerous serious injuries

The Bronx 5-alarm fire left 19 dead and numerous serious injuries

The Bronx 5-alarm fire left 19 dead and numerous serious injuries

The commissioner added that the apartment where the fire originated had its door opened, allowing for the blaze to spread throughout the building

The commissioner added that the apartment where the fire originated had its door opened, allowing for the blaze to spread throughout the building

The commissioner added that the apartment where the fire originated had its door opened, allowing for the blaze to spread throughout the building

Fire crews attend the scene at the horrific fire

Fire crews attend the scene at the horrific fire

Fire crews attend the scene at the horrific fire 

Residents trapped in the building were pulled out building by firefighters

Residents trapped in the building were pulled out building by firefighters

Residents trapped in the building were pulled out building by firefighters 

This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the City of New York,' Mayor Eric Adams said

This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the City of New York,' Mayor Eric Adams said

‘This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the City of New York,’ Mayor Eric Adams said

The fire at the Twins Park North West killed 87 victims

The fire at the Twins Park North West killed 87 victims

The fire at the Twins Park North West killed 87 victims 

A firefighter looks down at the tragic scene of the deadly fire

A firefighter looks down at the tragic scene of the deadly fire

A firefighter looks down at the tragic scene of the deadly fire 

Diaz said she fled her apartment upon learning about the fire. 

‘I was drinking coffee in the living room and I started smelling smoke. We started putting water on towels and the bottom of the door. Everything was crazy,’ Diaz told the Post.  

‘We saw a bunch of bodies coming out. People from my childhood were dying,’ her niece, Alanny added. 

Twitter user Hennessy Castillo recounted on the platform her escape from the blaze.

‘I was there, I made It out safely, but I could barely breath, I have asthma and I am very happy that I made it out safely, but I don’t know what started the fire, all I know is that I heard a lot of people screaming for help, some windows were broken but some people were fainted,’ Castillo tweeted.  

NEW YORK CITY’S DEADLIEST FIRE DISASTERS  

At least 19 people died on Sunday when a five-alarm fire erupted in a 19-story building in the Bronx.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and Mayor Eric Adams described the fire as ‘NYC’s worst in 30 decades. ‘The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in this city,’ Adams said. 

We’re taking a look at some of the worst fire disasters in the recent history of the Big Apple. 

March 25, 1990/West Farms, The Bronx – Eighty-seven people died trapped in the Happy Land social club after an unemployed refugee, whose girlfriend worked at the club, set the base of the staircase – the only point of access to the club – on fire with $1 worth of gasoline. 

Bodies are covered along the sidewalk in front of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx following a fire in the windowless-second floor room

Bodies are covered along the sidewalk in front of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx following a fire in the windowless-second floor room

Bodies are covered along the sidewalk in front of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx following a fire in the windowless-second floor room

The charred facade of the Happy Land social club in the Bronx section of New York City is pictured in 1990

The charred facade of the Happy Land social club in the Bronx section of New York City is pictured in 1990

The charred facade of the Happy Land social club in the Bronx section of New York City is pictured in 1990

December 28, 2017/ Belmont, The Bronx – A fire in the Belmont apartment of the Bronx killed 13 people and injured 14 others. At the time it became New York City’s deadliest fire in 25 years. It erupted when a 3-year-old played with the burners of the fire stove on the first floor of the building. As the mother desperately removed her children from the apartment, she accidentally left the door open, allowing the fire to spread.  

A fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel works on the scene of an apartment fire is in the Bronx borough of New York City is seen on December 29, 2017

A fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel works on the scene of an apartment fire is in the Bronx borough of New York City is seen on December 29, 2017

A fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel works on the scene of an apartment fire is in the Bronx borough of New York City is seen on December 29, 2017

March 7, 2007/Highbridge, The Bronx– The fire was started by a space heater’s electrical cord. it killed nine children and one adult. The building owner lost his five children. Another man lost his wife and four children. 

Fire department and police vehicles sit at the scene of a 3-alarm blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in an apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fire department and police vehicles sit at the scene of a 3-alarm blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in an apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fire department and police vehicles sit at the scene of a 3-alarm blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in an apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Charred wreckage sits piled at the scene of blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in a 4-story apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Charred wreckage sits piled at the scene of blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in a 4-story apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Charred wreckage sits piled at the scene of blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in a 4-story apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

April 23, 2017/ Queens Village, Queens– The fire at 112-16 208th St in Queens Village killed five people, including four children. A person driving by spotted the flames and alerted police. The fire was raised to three alarms before being stopped. 

New York Fire Department personnel stand outside the scene of a deadly fire Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Queens Village in New York

New York Fire Department personnel stand outside the scene of a deadly fire Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Queens Village in New York

New York Fire Department personnel stand outside the scene of a deadly fire Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Queens Village in New York

October 4, 2015/Borough Park, Brooklyn – An intentional building explosion and fire in Brooklyn left two dead and eight injured after a tenant who was late on rent poured gasoline in the stairwell of the three-story building. 

View of 13th Avenue and damaged cars in front of burned out storefront

View of 13th Avenue and damaged cars in front of burned out storefront

View of 13th Avenue and damaged cars in front of burned out storefront

 

 

 

‘This is a horrific, painful moment for New York’: Eric Adams visits scene of Bronx apartment fire that killed 19 people – including nine children – in first major crisis since becoming mayor

New York City Mayor Eric Adams visited the scene of a ‘horrific’ Bronx apartment blaze that killed at least 19 people Sunday as he endured his first major crisis during his first nine days as the city’s top politician. 

Appearing solemn as he spoke to reporters outside the charred building, Adams called the tragedy a ‘horrific, painful moment’ for the city.

‘This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times,’ he said.

During a press conference, Adams confirmed that the building appeared to be in violation of a law whereby fire doors should automatically close, as heat and smoke were able to pour through the tower’s other floors, killing many of those living above the blaze. 

He said an investigation will now be launched, and also told of how firefighters had bravely gone into the building despite having no oxygen left in their tanks. 

The historic blaze is the latest challenge Adams is tasked with navigating after being inaugurated January 1 as the city’s 110th mayor.

Appearing solemn as he spoke to reporters outside the scene of a Bronx apartment fire that killed at least 19 people, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the tragedy a 'horrific, painful moment

Appearing solemn as he spoke to reporters outside the scene of a Bronx apartment fire that killed at least 19 people, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the tragedy a 'horrific, painful moment

Appearing solemn as he spoke to reporters outside the scene of a Bronx apartment fire that killed at least 19 people, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the tragedy a ‘horrific, painful moment’

This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times,' he said

This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times,' he said

‘This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times,’ he said

During the past week, he’s been chastised by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over a ‘low-skill workers’ reference, berated by others for hiring his brother as the NYPD’s deputy commissioner, and then forced to call 911 after witnessing an assault.

He has also been dragged into a quarrel about newly-elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who last Monday instructed his office to downgrade burglary, carrying a weapon and drug dealing from felony charges.

Adams’ focus Sunday was on leading the city through the aftermath of the deadly blaze at the Twin Park apartments, a 19-story building on East 181st Street.

News photographers at the scene captured images of firefighters entering the upper floors of the burning building on a ladder, multiple limp children being given oxygen after being carried from the building and evacuees with their faces covered in soot.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro compared the severity of the fire to the Happy Land social club fire, which killed 87 people in 1990 when man set fire to the building after getting into an argument with his former girlfriend and being thrown out of the club.

The deadly fire - believed the worst to hit the city in more than 30 years - injured more than five dozen others, including 13 who were hospitalized in critical condition

The deadly fire - believed the worst to hit the city in more than 30 years - injured more than five dozen others, including 13 who were hospitalized in critical condition

The deadly fire – believed the worst to hit the city in more than 30 years – injured more than five dozen others, including 13 who were hospitalized in critical condition

Firefighters are pictured rendering aid to a woman injured in the January 9 blaze

Firefighters are pictured rendering aid to a woman injured in the January 9 blaze

Firefighters are pictured rendering aid to a woman injured in the January 9 blaze 

News photographers at the scene captured images of firefighters entering the upper floors of the burning building on a ladder, multiple victims being given oxygen after being carried from the building and evacuees and firefighters with their faces covered in soot

News photographers at the scene captured images of firefighters entering the upper floors of the burning building on a ladder, multiple victims being given oxygen after being carried from the building and evacuees and firefighters with their faces covered in soot

News photographers at the scene captured images of firefighters entering the upper floors of the burning building on a ladder, multiple victims being given oxygen after being carried from the building and evacuees and firefighters with their faces covered in soot

Adams, who said he watched bodies being pulled from the charred building, said his team is now focused on providing support to those affected.

‘We’re going to do everything we can to bring services on the ground here to give people the assistance they need as we all recover from the trauma from what we are witnessing here in the buildings behind us,’ he said.

Adams’ hands-on approach to leadership was reflected during his first day on the job, when he called police about an assault in progress. 

Footage posted to social media on January 1 showed Adams calling 911 as he passed through the Kosciuszko J stop in Brooklyn on his way to City Hall – and witnessed three men fighting on the street below.

One of the men was seen punching another man on the ground. Later, one of the attackers lifted a victim up and continued to punch him.

‘Yes, I’m at Broadway and Kosciuszko and I have an assault in progress,’ Adams told officers on the phone as reporters followed the newly sworn-in mayor around town on his first day in office.

‘No – assault in progress, not past assault,’ the mayor said. 

‘They are fighting each other on the street right now, three males.’

The fight ended and two of the men left by the time two police patrol cars arrived. Officers spoke to the remaining man but stayed in their car, and Adams told reporters he would have investigated more had he been the officer at the scene.

As he made his way to City Hall for the first time on New Year's Day, New York City's new Mayor Eric Adams called 911 about three men brawling on the street

As he made his way to City Hall for the first time on New Year's Day, New York City's new Mayor Eric Adams called 911 about three men brawling on the street

As he made his way to City Hall for the first time on New Year’s Day, New York City’s new Mayor Eric Adams called 911 about three men brawling on the street

The men were seen in video tackling each other and punching one another in broad daylight

The men were seen in video tackling each other and punching one another in broad daylight

The men were seen in video tackling each other and punching one another in broad daylight

While some praised Adams for his leadership, others have found reasons to criticize him.

Last week, Ocasio-Cortez called Adams out over comments he made during a press conference meant to emphasize the need to get employees back into city offices amid the latest Covid surge.

‘My low-skilled workers, my cooks, my dishwashers, my messengers, my shoe-shine people, those who work at Dunkin’ Donuts – they don’t have the academic skills to sit in the corner office,’ Adams said during the conference, fighting for the city to stay open.

Adam’s anecdote quickly sparked a firestorm on Twitter, with many criticizing the mayor for referring to such workers as ‘low-skilled.’ 

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Adams out on his choice of words

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Adams out on his choice of words

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Adams out on his choice of words

The controversy even spurred the mayor to clarify his comments the following day on social media and a televised interview, explaining he used to work such jobs and relied on people spending their disposable income to survive.   

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: ‘The suggestion that any job is ‘low skill’ is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages.’

‘Plus being a waitress has made me and many others *better* at our jobs than those who’ve never known that life,’ the self-professed democratic socialist added.

When confronted with the tweet Thursday morning, Adams appeared to laugh the attack off.

‘Right now, we are in a society where we have the ‘words police,” said Adams, 61, smiling as he spoke.

‘Everyone wants to take every term you use and try to make it seem that you want to be offensive.’

Adams (pictured riding a bike to media events) was blasted last week for referring to dishwashers and other service employees as 'low-skilled

Adams (pictured riding a bike to media events) was blasted last week for referring to dishwashers and other service employees as 'low-skilled

Adams (pictured riding a bike to media events) was blasted last week for referring to dishwashers and other service employees as ‘low-skilled’

The suggestion that any job is "low skill" is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages,' Ocasio-Cortez, colloquially known as AOC, wrote in response to Adams' remark

The suggestion that any job is "low skill" is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages,' Ocasio-Cortez, colloquially known as AOC, wrote in response to Adams' remark

‘The suggestion that any job is ‘low skill’ is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages,’ Ocasio-Cortez, colloquially known as AOC, wrote in response to Adams’ remark

The mayor faced more criticisms Friday after appointing his younger brother to serve as a deputy NYPD commissioner.

Bernard Adams, who is 56, is a retired cop, just like the 61-year-old mayor, and was a sergeant with the NYPD.

Although the position is a civilian post, deputy police commissioners make about $240,000. It is not known what Adams’ salary will be. 

The appointment raised eyebrows over possible conflict of interest claims.

‘New Yorkers expect that public servants are hired based on their unique qualifications and not because they are the mayor’s brother,’ Common Cause New York’s Executive Director Susan Lerner said to the Daily News.

‘It is unclear whether a waiver from the Conflict of Interest Board would be required for this appointment. With or without a waiver, it is troubling.’

The mayor faced more criticisms Friday after appointing his younger brother Bernard Adams (center) to serve as a deputy NYPD commissioner

The mayor faced more criticisms Friday after appointing his younger brother Bernard Adams (center) to serve as a deputy NYPD commissioner

The mayor faced more criticisms Friday after appointing his younger brother Bernard Adams (center) to serve as a deputy NYPD commissioner

Adams was inaugurated as New York City's 110th mayor on January 1

Adams was inaugurated as New York City's 110th mayor on January 1

Adams was inaugurated as New York City’s 110th mayor on January 1

Critics pounced on Adams yet again after he endorsed Manhattan’s district attorney last week and called him a ‘great prosecutor.’

His praise of Bragg came after the prosecutor revealed his progressive new approach to crime, which includes a sweeping new policy to only seek prison sentences for a handful of offenses, and downgrade or dismiss charges for many felony crimes.

The Democrat said offenses like marijuana misdemeanors, prostitution, resisting arrest and fare dodging will no longer be prosecuted.

Bragg has faced backlash from newly appointed NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and police union leaders, who said his policies would endanger the lives of officers and civilians. 

Sewell, the city’s first black female commissioner, sent an email to NYPD officers saying she was concerned about the effects Bragg’s sweeping changes.

‘I have studied these policies and I am very concerned about the implications to your safety as police officers, the safety of the public and justice for the victims,’ Sewell wrote in the email obtained by the New York Post. 

Her comments were out of step with Adams, despite him campaigning to make the city safer by getting tougher on crime. 

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg

 Newly-appointed NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell (left) has expressed concerns about the policy changes of new Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg (right) , which she said left officers, businesses and the general public vulnerable to crime

Curtis Sliwa, the Republican mayoral candidate who lost to Adams by a landslide, told Newsmax that Adams needed to come down harder on the new DA.

 ‘Beware of Eric Adams who says one thing and then immediately embraces the guy who is advertising: ‘come to the borough of Manhattan and commit crime,’ he said.

‘It’s open season.

‘That means smash and grabs, that means shoplifting, armed robbery, somebody can put a gun to your head as a tourist and guess what, he gets a desk appearance ticket.

‘Eric Adams can’t have it both ways.’

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