Bronx fire LATEST: New York apartment blaze 'caused by bedroom electric heater' at 333 East 181st Street leaves 19 dead

A DEADLY fire in a Bronx apartment building was caused by a "malfunctioning" electric heater left in a bedroom, authorities said on Sunday.

In a press conference New York City mayor Eric Adams confirmed that 19 people had tragically lost their lives, nine of which were children.

At a press conference, Adams said: "This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times."

The fire started just before 11am on January 9, 2022, at 333 E 181st Street and around 200 firefighters responded to the deadly blaze.

At least 60 people have reportedly been transported to hospitals with life-threatening injuries, with many reportedly suffering from sever smoke inhalation.

According to the FDNY, the fire started in a third floor apartment and has been described as the deadliest apartment building blaze in 30 years.

NYPD sent out a tweet advising people to avoid the area.

Read our Bronx Fire live blog for the very latest news and updates…

  • G. P. Rodriguez

    Victims on every floor

    FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said that victims were found on every floor of the high-rise apartment building, as well as in the stairwells.

    In disturbing scenes, a heroic firefighter was seen cradling a baby to safety while victims of the inferno were seen on stretchers and people being attended to by paramedics.

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    Building’s resident recalls tragedy

    Stephan Beauvogui, a resident of the building, escaped with his wife and two sons. He smelled the smoke while lying down. He says his wife didn’t take him seriously when he complained about the smoke at first.

    “Then I opened the door, and, Oh, my God!” Beauvogui added that flames and smoke were “everywhere”, calling it the scariest moment of his life.

    “The devastating part was when we were going down the stairs, we saw dead bodies and dead dogs laying down,” said a building resident tearfully. “They were trying to rescue more people and give them CPR.”

    “I feel so bad for my neighbors lost, we’re all like family.”

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    What caused the fire?

    A malfunctioning space heater sparked a fire that filled a high-rise Bronx apartment building with thick smoke Sunday morning, killing 19 people including nine children in New York City’s deadliest blaze in three decades.

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    How many were hurt?

    More than five dozen people were hurt and 13 were hospitalized in critical condition. The fire commissioner said most of the victims had severe smoke inhalation.

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    'People didn’t pay attention'

    Jose Henriquez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who lives on the 10th floor, said the building’s fire alarms would frequently go off, but would turn out to be false.

    “It seems like today, they went off but the people didn’t pay attention,” Henriquez said in Spanish.

    Luis Rosa said he also initially thought it was a false alarm. By the time he opened the door of his 13th-floor apartment, the smoke was so thick he couldn’t see down the hallway. “So I said, OK, we can’t run down the stairs because if we run down the stairs, we’re going to end up suffocating.”

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    Resident recalls chaos

    Building resident Sandra Clayton said she grabbed her dog Mocha and ran for her life when she saw the hallway filling with smoke and heard people screaming, “Get out! Get out!”

    Clayton, 61, said she groped her way down a darkened stairway, clutching Mocha in her arms. The smoke was so black that she couldn’t see, but she could hear neighbors wailing and crying nearby.

    “I just ran down the steps as much as I could but people was falling all over me, screaming,” Clayton recounted from a hospital where she was treated for smoke inhalation.

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    The fire didn't spread

    The flames didn’t spread far — only charring the one unit and an adjacent hallway. But the door to the apartment and a door to a stairwell had been left open, letting smoke quickly spread throughout the building, Nigro said.

    New York City fire codes generally require apartment doors to be spring-loaded and slam shut automatically, but it was not immediately clear whether this building was covered by those rules.

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    Firefighters risked their lives

    Mayor Adams informed that the firefighter’s “Oxygen tanks were empty and firefighters still pushed through the smoke” to help those trapped in the building.

    He confirmed nine of the victims are children.

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    ‘One of the worst fires’

    Officials have declared the Bronx apartment building blaze as “one of the worst fires” in New York City history.

    Is has been reported to be the deadliest apartment building fire in 30 years.

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    A horrific scene

    Firefighters are seen assisting a child evacuated from an apartment building after a deadly fire in the Bronx, on January 9, 2022, in New York.

    At least 19 people have died and dozens are injured after a fire tore through a high-rise apartment building in the New York borough of the Bronx, Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday.

    Credit: The Mega Agency
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    What was the main cause of death among victims?

    FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro spoke at a press conference following the tragedy, stating that most of the victims succumbed to severe smoke inhalation.

    Firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” said Nigro.

    “That is unprecedented in our city. We expect there to be numerous fatalities.”

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    What area was affected?

    Traffic was stopped at 182st and Webster Avenue, in the Bronx.

    The 120-unit building is near Tiebout Avenue in the Tremont section of the Bronx.

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    At least 63 injured

    63 people are now confirmed to be injured from the fire.

    19 others are dead, including nine children.

    The fire sparked at approximately 11am Sunday.

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    Firefighter photographed rescuing baby

    A heroic firefighter was seen holding a baby to safety while victims were scattered on stretchers and others were treated by paramedics.

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    What caused the fire?

    The cause of the fire was due to a portable electric space heater, said Richardson. A door was left open, allowing the fire and smoke to spread into the hallways.

    "There is more to be discovered," as the investigation continues, he added

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    'One of the worst fires in our history'

    At least 19 people died, including nine children, and dozens were injured when a fire tore through a high-rise apartment building in New York City on Sunday, its mayor said, in one of America's worst residential fires in recent memory.

    "We know that we have 19 people who are confirmed dead, as well as several others in critical condition," Mayor Eric Adams told CNN, adding that 63 people had been wounded.

    "This is going to be one of the worst fires in our history," he said.

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    16 and younger

    At least 19 people, including nine children, were killed after fire tore through a Bronx apartment building Sunday in what's become New York City's deadliest blaze in more than three decades.

    Stefan Ringel, a senior adviser to Mayor Eric Adams, confirmed the death toll. He said the children killed were 16 years old or younger.

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    Part of affordable housing

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

    "There's no guarantee that there's a working fire alarm in every apartment, or in every common area," U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the area, told The Associated Press.

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    Neighbors describe horror

    Neighbors spoke of seeing residents desperately waving from floors, apparently trapped and unable to escape.

    "It was chaos," George King, who lives directly adjacent the building told AFP.

    "I've been here 15 years and it's the first time I've seen something like this.

    "I saw the smoke, a lot of people were panicking. You could see that no one wanted to jump from the building. People were waving from the windows," he added.

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    'Unprecedented'

    New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that flames quickly engulfed much of the structure and that the smoke was so dense as to be "unprecedented."

    He said "very heavy" fire and smoke "extended the entire height of the building."

    "Members found victims on every floor, in stairwells," Nigro told reporters.

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    The scene

    Firefighters are seen working outside an apartment building after a deadly fire in the Bronx, on January 9, 2022, in New York. –

    At least 19 people have died and dozens are injured after a fire tore through a high-rise apartment building in the New York borough of the Bronx, Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday.

    Credit: Getty Images – Getty
  • G. P. Rodriguez

    Firefighters injured

    Four firefighters are among the injured, though none of their injuries are life-threatening.

    At least 19 people were killed in the devastating fire, including nine children, confirmed NYC Mayor Eric Adams in a press conference Sunday evening.

    Adams said the firefighters’ oxygen tanks were empty but “they still pushed through the smoke.” 

  • G. P. Rodriguez

    More than 60 injured

    An official for the FDNY said there were more than 60 injuries in total, more than half of those were serious.

    The cause of the fire was due to a portable electric space heater, said Richardson. A door was left open, allowing the fire and smoke to spread into the hallways.

    "There is more to be discovered," as the investigation continues, he added

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    Fire department was short-staffed

    Engine 48 was the first team to respond to the fire, according to the New York Post. However, the team was short-staffed, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said.

    “They only had four firefighters instead of the five they are called for because of people out sick because of Covid,” said the Uniformed Firefighters Association president Andrew Ansbro.

    “If there was adequate staffing the fire could have been put out faster and people would have received medical aid sooner.”

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    'Horrific' numbers

    Mayor Eric Adams described Sunday's fire as "one of the worst fires we have witnessed here in modern times in the city of New York."

    "The numbers are horrific," said the Mayor.

    The predominant injury for the victims so far is severe smoke inhalation.

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