US: Child caused massive apartment fire killing 12
An apartment fire that killed at least 12 people, including five children, was started by a three-year-old boy playing with a stove, New York City Fire Department (FDNY) officials said Friday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
Describing it as the "deadliest fire in decades," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the apartment's stairway acted "like a chimney" as the fire burst from the apartment, feeding the flames and allowing them to spread throughout the building.
Nigro said some victims died from burns and others from smoke inhalation with no time to react or find a main escape route.
Officials said five children -- including three girls aged 1, 2 and 7 -- were among the dead. The oldest victim was a 63-year-old woman.
Fourteen others were hurt, including four severely, and are fighting for their lives. Six firefighters and an emergency responder battling the fire in difficult conditions were also injured.
The boy, who has a "history of playing with the burners and turning them on", started the fire, Nigro told reporters at a press conference, adding it was too late when the mother discovered the flames.
She exited her apartment with her 2-year-old and the 3-year-old and left the door open, Nigro said, adding that is the reason the fire spread up the stairwell so quickly to the rest of the building.
"Close the door. Close the door. Close the door. If unfortunately, you do have a fire in your apartment, you must close the door when you exit because the results if you do not are what happened here last night," he added, describing it as the "lesson of the night".
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was en route to the scene immediately, called the city's worst fire in a quarter century "an unspeakable tragedy" and warned that the death toll could rise.
"In the middle of the holiday season, a time when families are together, tonight here in the Bronx, there are families that have been torn apart," he said. "Based on the information we have now, this will rank as one of the worst losses of life to a fire in many, many years."
The fire broke out on the first floor and quickly spread throughout the five-story apartment building, which is near the Bronx Zoo and a college.
The FDNY said more than 160 firefighters were on the scene and battling the flames in bone-chilling cold of minus 9 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit) to rescue people.
The victims reported injured were taken to nearby medical centers and are in either serious or critical condition, according to the FDNY.
The Red Cross arrived on the scene and were handing out blankets to residents who were stuck without access to their apartments.
The fire was the deadliest since 1990, when 87 people died in a blaze at the Happy Land social club.
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