New York City apartment block leaves several dead, including children

Resident Vernessa Cunningham, 60, said she raced home from church after getting an alert on her phone that the building was on fire.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in shock,” Cunningham said from a nearby school where some residents gathered. “I could see my apartment. The windows were all busted out. And I could see flames coming from the back of the building.”

New NYC Mayor Eric Adams outside the apartment block after the fire.Credit:AP

The fire was not believed to be suspicious, but the cause was under investigation, officials said.

Building resident Cristal Diaz, 27, told the New York Post she started putting wet towels at the bottom of her door after smelling smoke while drinking coffee in her living room.

“Everything was crazy,” she said. “We didn’t know what to do. We looked out the windows and saw all the dead bodies they were taking with the blankets.”

The 120-unit building in the Twin Parks North West complicate was built in 1973 as part of a project to build modern, affordable housing in the Bronx.

“Many of these buildings are old. Not every apartment has a fire alarm. Most of these buildings have no sprinkler system,” congressman Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the area, said on MSNBC. “And so the risk of a fire is much higher in lower income neighbourhoods, in the Bronx, than it might be in other places in the city or in the country.”

Nigro and Torres both compared the fire’s severity to a 1990 blaze at the Happy Land social club where 87 people were killed when a man set fire to the building after getting into an argument with his former girlfriend and being thrown out of the Bronx club.

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Sunday’s death toll was the highest for a fire in the city since then. It was also the deadliest fire at a US residential apartment building since 2017 when 13 people died in an apartment building, also in the Bronx, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association. That fire started with a three-year-old boy playing with stove burners and led to several law changes in New York City, including having the fire department to create a plan for educating children and parents on fire safety and requiring certain residential buildings to install self-closing doors.

The Bronx fire happened just days after 12 people, including eight children, were killed in a house fire in Philadelphia.

Reuters, AP

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