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What caused the Bronx fire and how many victims have there been?

The death toll currently stands at nineteen, but people remain in a critical condition after the apartments were flooded with smoke.

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What caused the Bronx fire and how many victims have there been?
Ed Jones AFP

Details are continuing to emerge after nineteen people were killed, including nine children, and dozens of others were injured from an apartment building fire in The Bronx borough of New York City on Sunday.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams confirmed that so far 19 people had died from the blaze that broke out around 11 a.m. in the 19-floor apartment building. As of publication, no more deaths have been announced, but more than 60 people are injured while 13 remain in a critical condition.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y) called the fire a "tremendous tragedy & loss for our community” in a tweet Sunday, while Mayor Adams described it as a "horrific, painful moment" for New York.

How did the fire start?

Mayor Adams said in a press conference that the fire was started by a "malfunctioning electrical heater."

The fire spread quickly due to open doors leading to a main stairwell in the apartments. This will inevitably raise concerns of adequate fire safety measures. It is the worst blaze in the city since the Happy land social club incident in 1990, in which 89 people were killed.

Eyewitness testimony

One resident, Luis Rosa, thought the fire alarm was a test, but realized the danger when smoke started coming into his flat.

"Once I opened the door, I couldn't even see that far 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. All we could do was wait," he said.

Another resident, Jose Henriquez, 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.