12 dead, several injured in Bronx building fire

The fire broke out at 6:51 p.m. on the third floor of a building on Prospect Ave. at E. 187th St. in Belmont

"The mother was not aware of it, was alerted by the young man screaming", said Daniel Nigro, commissioner for the New York City Fire Department.

Elain Williams said she lost her daughter, sister, and two nieces in the Thursday night fire at 2363 Prospect Ave.

Numerous 25 families who lived in the Bronx apartment building were immigrants, "hard-working people going about their lives", said Jonathan Morris, the priest at the nearby Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, who said he spent Thursday night with the families at St. Barnabas Hospital as they were called upon to identify the dead. His wife was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and was OK, Rodriguez said, but it was "devastating" that other neighbors weren't as lucky.

The building is in the Belmont section of the Bronx, a primarily residential, close-knit neighbourhood known as the "Little Italy" of the borough, near Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo.

Excluding the September 11 attacks, it was the worst fire in the city since 87 people were killed at a social club fire in the Bronx in 1990. "Fire!' So when I open my door and come out...when I look, it's a lot of smoke... by the time I get out, now my sister didn't come out in time behind me", she said.

The fire spread up the stairs and cut off exit points for people on the upper floors.

Emelia Ascheampong, right, a resident of the building where at least 12 died in a fire, is embraced by a friend on December 29, 2017.

Fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel work on the scene of an apartment fire in Bronx, New York, U.S. December 28, 2017. Five people were declared dead in the building, one of them was a small child. "We won't tell you anything more about it other than they range in ages from 1 to over 50".

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When the mother fled the burning apartment with the boy and his 2-year-old sibling, she made a fatal mistake - she left the apartment door open.

"Children starting fires is not rare", Nigro said.

It was constructed in 1916 and had more than 20 units, according to property records cited by the newspaper.

"That's what I think, because it was in his nature", Kwabena said.

"I'm relieved I'm alive, but at the same time, it's like, where do I go?" By the time officials held a news conference around 10 p.m. ET, the fire had been put out and the building was being searched.

Diallo said the apartment building has tenants who hail from all over the world.

One of the deadliest fires in recent city memory happened elsewhere in the Bronx in 2007. "It was horrific, heartbreaking", said Michael de Vulpillieres, a Red Cross spokesman.

In addition to the reports of one apartment's faulty smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the city received four complaints about the building, since 2004.


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