FORDHAM HEIGHTS, the Bronx — A fire at a Bronx high-rise apartment building left at least 17 people dead, including eight children, according to officials. Mayor Eric Adams announced a revised death toll at a Monday briefing.
Firefighters were called to the building on East 181st Street in Fordham Heights just before 11 a.m. for a fire on the third floor of the 19-story high-rise. Some of their oxygen tanks were empty as they battled the blaze, but they “still pushed through the smoke,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
More than 40 additional people were injured in the fire, some of whom were considered to have life-threatening injuries, according to Adams and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Nigro said many of the people who were injured suffered from smoke inhalation.
Video from the scene Sunday morning showed flames shooting out of a window. Several people climbed down a ladder with firefighters as smoke and flames billowed out of the window, another video showed.
Nigro said the cause of the fire remained under investigation, but officials determined that the door to the apartment where the flames broke out was left open. Adams said it was believed the fire stemmed from a space heater.
“The door to that apartment was left open, causing the fire to spread and the smoke to spread,” Nigro said. “This fire took its toll on our city.”
Adams described the aftermath of the fire as one of the worst in the city’s history.
“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the City of New York,” he said.
The preliminary death toll on Sunday eclipsed a 2017 fire in the Bronx that was considered to be the deadliest in more than 25 years. Thirteen people were killed in the fire on Prospect Avenue back on Dec. 28, 2017.
The mayor and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, who was also at the scene, were working to bring resources into the area to help displaced residents and family members of the victims. The Red Cross of Greater New York was expected to be deployed.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said she was horrified by the fire.
“My heart is with the loved ones of all those we’ve tragically lost, all of those impacted and with our heroic @FDNY firefighters,” she tweeted. “The entire State of New York stands with New York City.”
About 200 firefighters battled the blaze, which rose to five alarms before it was brought under control Sunday afternoon.
The NYPD tweeted an advisory for motorists to avoid the area near East 181 Street and Valentine Avenue due to emergency vehicles and traffic.
Department of Buildings workers conducted structural stability inspections after the fire was put out.
Editor’s note: Mayor Eric Adams announced a revised, slightly lower death toll on Monday afternoon.