No fewer than 19 people have died including nine children while 60 others were left with varying degrees of injuries during a fire accident in United States of America.
The accident was said to have started when a fire started by a malfunctioning space heater spread smoke through a low-income building in The Bronx borough of New York City.
While speaking to newsmen about the incident Yesterday, the New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, confirmed that 19 people had died from the blaze that broke out around 11 a.m. in the imposing 19-floor Twin Parks North West building which provided affordable housing units and was home to a Gambian community.
He expressed how horrific the scene had been watching the numbers of the victims that were involved in the fire accident, adding that the incident was a painful moment for the state.
“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York. The numbers are horrific.” he said.
Adams said many of the residents were from the small west African country of Gambia but the Gambian consulate in New York did not immediately respond to a request for information.
He disclosed that 200 firefighters had helped put out the blaze, and some ran out of oxygen in their tanks but pushed through anyway to rescue people from the building.
“I really want to thank them for putting their lives on the line to save lives,” Adams said.
Also, the U.S. Representative, a Democrat whose district includes the New York building, Ritchie Torres, said that affordable housing developments such as the Bronx one pose safety risks to residents.
“When we allow our affordable housing developments to be plagued by decades of disinvestment, we are putting lives at risk,” he said.
Earlier, New York officials said that 32 people had been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and 60 people were injured in total as smoke drifted through the building on a cold winter morning.
According to the officials, the fire itself started from a space heater in an apartment that spanned the second and third floors of the building, and only made it to the hall.
During a press briefing, the city’s fire department commissioner, Daniel Nigro, said the smoke still spread to every floor of the 120-unit building, likely because the door to the apartment was left open.
“Members found victims on every floor in stairwells and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” he said.
He disclosed that the building did not have external fire escapes, and residents were meant to evacuate through interior stairways, adding that some of them could not escape because of the volume of smoke.
He further said that fire marshals had determined through physical evidence and accounts from residents the fire started in a portable electric heater in the apartment’s bedroom, adding that the heat had been on in the apartment building and the portable heater had been supplementing that heating.
As gathered, the catastrophe was likely to stir questions on safety standards in low-income city housing. This was the second major deadly fire in a residential complex in the U.S. this week after twelve people, including eight children, early on Wednesday when flames swept through a public housing apartment building in Philadelphia.