A massive fire tour through a century-old apartment building in the New York City borough of the Bronx Thursday night, killing 12 people including 4 children, city officials said.
It’s what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling the city’s worst fire tragedy in 25 years.
The blaze began on the building’s first floor just before 7 p.m. local time and moved extremely quickly, The New York Times reported, filling the five-story building built in 1916 with smoke and flames and sending residents of the 25 apartments inside fleeing into the bitter cold evening.
Victims ranged in age from a 1 year old to a 63 years old, NBC News reported. The other child victims were 2 and 7 years old.
Four people are in critical condition at local hospitals, fighting for their lives, de Blasio said on Twitter. At least 12 people were rescued.
Firefighters had responded to emergency calls to the building, located blocks away from the Bronx Zoo, in three minutes, a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said, according the N.Y. Times. More than 160 firefighters were on the scene and a had brought the deadly inferno under control around 10 p.m.
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“Tonight in the Bronx we’ve seen the worst fire tragedy in at least a quarter of a century. It is an unspeakable tragedy, and families have been torn apart,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “I want to offer my prayers to all the families who have lost their loved ones this evening or who are struggling. I ask all New Yorkers to keep them in your prayers, too.”
Tonight in the Bronx we’ve seen the worst fire tragedy in at least a quarter of a century. It is an unspeakable tragedy, and families have been torn apart. pic.twitter.com/0kCFMzxt79
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 29, 2017
This tragedy is, without question, historic in its magnitude. Our hearts go out to every family who lost a loved one here and everyone fighting for their lives –#FDNY Commissioner Nigro
— FDNY (@FDNY) December 29, 2017
“This tragedy is, without question, historic in its magnitude,” fire commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “Our hearts go out to every family who lost a loved one here and everyone fighting for their lives.”
Investigators do not currently know the cause of the fire, CNN reported.
Displaced residents were taken in by neighbors or sent to a nearby vocational high school for shelter, according to the N.Y. Times. Those looking for relatives are asked to contact the city’s 311 services.
Elected officials including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered their condolences on Twitter throughout the evening. “We are closely monitoring the devastating fire in the Bronx,” Cuomo wrote. “As always we are thankful for our first responders. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families tonight.”
The city’s previous deadliest fire was in 1990, when the Happy Land social club went up in flames, killing 87 people, The New York Daily News reported.