NYC fire: Residents, families reckon with Bronx fire's deadly toll

In the wake of a fire in the Bronx that killed 19 people, residents and their families are coming to grip with the fire's deadly toll. 

Fire officials say the fire was started by a malfunctioning electric space heater inside a duplex located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the 19-story apartment building just before 11 a.m. 

The fire consumed the apartment and part of the hallway. When the door to the apartment was left open, smoke was able to travel through the building.

Injuries from the fire include 32 people with life-threatening injuries, 9 people in serious condition, and 22 people with non-life-threatening injuries, but the ultimate death toll could be the worst the city has seen since the Happy Land fire in 1990 that killed 87 people.

"We were calling them no response, their cell phones nothing," said Francz Shannon.

Shannon’s parents live on the fourth floor of the building. They are in their 70’s and his dad walks with a cane.

His mind went to the worst place when he couldn’t get a hold of them.


FOX 29's Eddie Kadhim caught up with him just after he found them at the pop-up shelter across the street.

"I couldn’t believe it with my own eyes," Shannon said. "I was in shock I can’t even express it in words. I grabbed them I’m so happy right now."

Sadly at least 19 people didn’t make it out alive including 9 children.

According to New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, smoke from the fire ran the entire height of the building, and responding firefighters found victims in stairwells on every floor of the building. Most of the victims suffered from severe smoke inhalation.

"It’s really hard to see," said Matt McLeod. "So much we can do in terms of response. But people have already lost their lives.  I would love to think a lot about fire prevention and what we can do to build up infrastructure for fire prevention.  You know the same thing just happened in Philadelphia last week."

Neighbors saw the devastation and came out with donations to help in any way they could.

"We just saw what was happening," said Catrina Jones.  "It’s a terrible tragedy and someone said kids and people were running out barefoot. They didn’t have any clothes on.  God blessed us we had extra so we just pulled together some stuff and hopefully it will help somebody."

There are over 120 units in the building.

The Bronx fire occurred just a few days after 12 people, including eight children, died as the result of a fire in a Philadelphia Housing Authority duplex. According to a warrant, investigators are looking into whether or not that fire may have started when a child playing with a lighter ignited a Christmas tree inside the home. 

The American Red Cross is on the scene in the Bronx assisting the families with housing and any other needs they might have.



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