“Children were crying for help!”: At least 19 people, including nine children, died Sunday and about 60 were injured in a terrible accidental building fire in the Bronx in New York, “one of the worst” in the recent history of the megalopolis.
Victims were found on each floor of this brick building which has 19, the smoke rising to the top of the building. The fire started because of an auxiliary heater in a duplex apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors, according to the New York firefighters.
“This is going to be one of the worst fires in our history. We know that we have 19 people dead as well as several others in critical condition and more than 63 people injured” in total, the new mayor of New York said on the spot. Eric Adams.
He then confirmed on Twitter the loss of “nine young innocent lives”, or nine children and adolescents among the 19 people who died.
The new city councilor of New York, a former African-American policeman who took office on January 1, lamented a “real tragedy not just for the Bronx and the city”, a megalopolis of nine million inhabitants with economic inequalities and glaring social relationships between an upscale neighborhood like Manhattan and the Bronx or Queens.
In the first images that circulated on social media Sunday morning, huge flames and thick black smoke billowed from a window of a multi-story building in the Bronx, a huge working-class neighborhood in upstate New York.
– “Chaos” –
Dilenny Rodriguez, a 38-year-old resident of the apartment building, is safe and sound with her whole family, but is “devastated” by what she has seen and heard.
“Many children were crying and crying for help, help, help!”, She told AFPTV, after hearing them from her own window, which she had opened to avoid the suffocation of the children. fumes.
Another resident on the 11th floor of the building, Miguel Enrique, testified to AFP, saying he was “asthmatic” and had just time to “grab a coat and go down by the elevator” because the hallway was black with smoke.
George King, a resident of a neighboring building, told AFP about a scene of “chaos” and said he “saw a lot of people in panic” and that “no one wanted to jump out of the building”.
New York firefighters, called to the scene around 11:00 a.m. (4:00 p.m. GMT), had initially announced a toll of around thirty injured and had brought the disaster under control in two hours.
Before the provisional toll jumped to 19 dead.
– “Auxiliary heating” –
Two hundred firefighters intervened on this HLM type building.
According to the New York fire chief Daniel Nigro on the spot, the investigators “determined on the basis of material evidence and the first testimonies of residents that the fire started from a bedroom and a heater extra “.
After the fire started in an apartment located “on the second and third floors”, the firefighters “found themselves facing the fire in the hallways: a lot of smoke, a very heavy fire”, explained Mr. Nigro. Smoke spread across the entire height of the building, which is totally unusual “and firefighters” found casualties on every floor and evacuated them in cardiac and respiratory arrest. “
– “Atrocious day” –
“It really is an excruciating day for us,” insisted Mayor Eric Adams, a centrist Democrat elected on a program to fight crime and economic and social inequalities in New York.
Last Wednesday, a terrible fire in an apartment building in Philadelphia killed 12 people, including eight children.
And in this same district of the Bronx, in December 2017, a fire had killed 12 people including four children, the most serious in 25 years in the city. It had been provoked by a three-and-a-half-year-old child playing with a gas stove.
New York is suffering in various neighborhoods from a huge housing crisis, with buildings often dilapidated and poorly maintained.