Ten adults and nine children are dead after a five-alarm fire ripped through a building in New York City on Sunday.
The fire, stemming from a malfunctioning portable space heater, started around 11 a.m. ET at a 19-story residential building on East 181st Street in the Bronx. The blaze was knocked down before 1 p.m., after roughly 200 firefighters responded to the scene.
“This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times,” Mayor Eric Adams said during a news conference on Sunday.
At least 63 people were also injured.
Earlier in the day, New York City Fire Department Commissioner Dan Nigro said at a press conference he anticipated “numerous fatalities.” He added many of the victims suffered from severe smoke inhalation.
Nigro said the door to the duplex apartment where the fire originated was left open, causing the smoke and fire to spread throughout the building at a rapid pace. “We’ve spread the word, ‘close the door, close the door,’” to slow the spread, he said.
Firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” he added.