BRONX (VG) Mayor Eric Adams has described it as one of the “worst fires of modern times” in the city. Resident Stephan Beauvogui and his family escaped before the smoke engulfed the building.
– What should I say to my children now? They’re going to ask me tomorrow, ‘Dad, where are my friends? Should I tell that the boy is dead, that the little boy died, says the father of two outside the building he has lived in for the last seven years.
He breaks down crying.
Just a few hours ago, he and his two sons had to flee through the smoky hallway from the fire that Mayor Eric Adams has called one of the worst fires New York City has witnessed in modern times.
The Beauvogui family escaped unharmed, but his neighbor – with whom his sons usually play – died in the fire, he says.
– No fire escape, nothing, says Beauvogui and points to the tall building – which made it more difficult for the residents to get out.
Up to the eleventh floor there are broken windows.
Carpets are hung in some of the windows.
Maybe in a desperate attempt to get help, or to get out.
New York Fire Chief Dan Nigro has said he expects “many dead.”
– People were trapped in their apartments throughout the building. It is unusual for the smoke to extend over the entire length of the building, says Nigro.
When Beauvogui and his family evacuated, the hallway was full of smoke.
– Everyone in the building waved and asked for help, he says.
Nine of the dead are children. They are 16 years and younger.
At least 63 people are injured, and 13 people are hospitalized in critical condition.
According to the commissioner, the fire must have started in one broken electric heater.
Julia Fowler, who managed to escape with her family from the ninth floor, says that they have been told that the fire brigade is now working to look for other dead. VG observes several people who are in the process of cleaning up inside parts of the building.
– I was at home with the family and we smelled smoke, says Fowler and goes on to say that they first covered the doors with towels to keep the smoke away.
As they walked down the floor, it was dark, wet and full of glass, Fowler describes.
– I tremble, but thanks to God we are ok. It could have been much worse, she says to VG.
Outside the building, Tiffany Diaz is also standing with her son Mason on her arm.
They live on the ground floor of the neighboring building. Diaz was cooking when she suddenly smelled strong smoke.
– I got scared and took my son and went out.
Since she lives in the neighboring building, she has been told that she can go in again, but when VG meets her on the street, she has no plans to do so immediately:
– I’m still a little scared, she says.
The fire brigade received reports of the fire shortly before 11.00 local time.
Investigators believe that the fire started in an apartment on the second and third floors of the building and that the door to the apartment was left open. This caused the fire to spread throughout the building.
Several of the apartments in the apartment block have been converted into smaller rooms, which made the extinguishing work difficult, says a spokesman for the fire service.
Almost 32 years ago, the same neighborhood in New York saw one of its worst fires in which 87 lives were lost.
The Bronx is one of five boroughs in New York City, and is the poorest of the five boroughs.