A Bronx fire broke out Sunday morning and killed 17 people, including multiple children. The survivors of the fire have started to speak out and talk about the devastating blaze and how they are lucky to be alive.
According to reports, firefighters were first called to the Twin Parks North West apartment building around 11 a.m. Sunday morning. Over 200 firefighters were called to the massive fire, which started in a duplex on the third floor.
So far, over 63 people were injured and 32 people have been sent to five Bronx area hospitals with severe injuries. The main cause of injury was “severe smoke inhalation.” Names for the 17 victims have not been released, as officials continue to identify bodies.
Survivors of the fire have started to open up about the horrifying experiences they had while trapped inside. They described thick, black smoke that made it hard for them to breathe and see. Officials say that the smoke was able to spread throughout the building.
Dilenny Rodriguez, who raced out of the burning building with her two young children, said that she could barely see when she was going down the stairs. “We couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I almost got lost because it was so dark.”
The smoke also made the stairs wet and slippery. Those escaping the flames had to deal with victims who had not made it out of the building. According to reports, many of the 17 dead were found in the building’s stairwells. Firefighters said that the smoke was so thick that the victims passed out.
Those who couldn’t risk escaping huddled in their apartments and tried to get fresh air from their windows. Cristal Diaz, 27, was on the 15th floor with her family when the fire happened. The smoke was too dangerous, so they put wet towels under the front door and watched as firefighters brought victims out on gurneys.
Diaz said, “We understood right then that they were dead.”
Officials are calling the Bronx fire one of the deadliest New York fires in decades. While the flames didn’t spread that far out of the first apartment, fire officials are saying that smoke caused most of the damage and causalities. Investigators believe the fire was caused by a malfunctioning space heater.
They also believe that the smoke spread because one of the apartments doors didn’t automatically close when the residents fled the flames. According to NYC law, all doors in buildings with more than one apartment must be self-closing to prevent serious fire damage. Investigators believe that the door in question was malfunctioning at the time of the fire.
“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York, and the impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of just pain and despair in our city,” said Mayor Eric Adams.
According to some residents of the building, they didn’t pay attention when the fire alarm went off, because the building was known for false alarms.
“The alarm was going off for a while, so I didn’t pay it no mind,” said Daisy Mitchell, a resident of the 10th floor. “Then, when he opened the door and I went out there, I passed out — it was devastating, it was like really scary. “I went to the stairs, I opened the door, it just blew me back [to] the house,” she added. “If I’d stayed out there for another three seconds, I would have been gone too.”
A GoFundMe page has been started to support the survivors of the Bronx fire. Many were members of the New York Muslim community and were immigrants from Gambia. So far, the page has raised over $360,000 for the survivors and their families.
Mayor Eric Adams told the public that they will be working with Muslim community leaders to make sure that all victims of Sunday’s fire have traditional Muslim burial ceremonies. The mayor cautioned that there may be more victims of the fire if those in the hospital are unable to survive.