12 dead, several injured in Bronx building fire

Oscar Cross
December 31, 2017

It was the deadliest fire in New York City in more than 25 years.

Resident Diana Hayes told the New York Times she had escaped with her daughter and pulled a neighbour's two children from the fire, but that she had to leave other children behind.

Self-closing doors, which swing shut on their own to keep fires from spreading, were also supposed to have been installed, said city Housing Preservation and Development Department spokesperson Matthew Creegan.

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.

"We may lose others as well", he said.

According to The New York Times, the building is a 100-year-old, five-story walk-up 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 in an arson at a social club in the Bronx in 1990. "Say something. You leave the door open and just say, "fire, fire, fire" you're not saying anything else?"

Many questions remained in the immediate aftermath of the blaze, including how the fire spread so quickly in a brick building built after catastrophic fires at the turn of the 20th century ushered in an era of tougher enforcement of fire codes. Over 160 firefighters responded to the incident.

A National Guard soldier who was home for the holidays died while saving people from the massive apartment fire in the Bronx borough in New York City on Thursday night, according to several news reports.

The fire, which started on the bottom floor, quickly spread to all five levels of the building.

"I heard people screaming, 'There's a fire in the building!'" he said.

Authorities said the boy was three-and-a-half years old. He added that it's not unusual for children to be fascinated by fire or rare for children to start them. Francis' mother told the New York Times that 13 members of the family lived in the building.

"I opened the door and it was pitch black", Rodriguez said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was en route to the scene of the fire around 9 p.m.

Diallo said the apartment building has tenants who hail from all over the world. "It was horrific, heartbreaking", said Michael de Vulpillieres, a Red Cross spokesman.

And in 2007, a fire in the Bronx killed nine children and an adult.

A 28-year-old soldier who's been missing since the fire, Emmanuel Mensah, is desperately being sought by family and friends.

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