Boy, 3, playing with stove caused deadly NYC fire, officials say
January 22 2018, 01:50 | Irvin Gilbert
Firefighters respond to a building fire Thursday Dec. 28 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York
A 3-YEAR-OLD boy playing with stove burners accidentally ignited the fire that ripped through a NY apartment building, killing 12 people, including four children, the city's fire department chief said yesterday.
When the mother fled the burning apartment with the boy and his 2-year-old sibling, she made a fatal mistake - she left the apartment door open. From there, the fire spread throughout the five-story building, authorities said.
The fire was started by a 3-and-a-half-year-old boy who was playing with burners on a kitchen stove located in a first-floor apartment, officials said. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the stairway "acted like a chimney" pulling the fire upstairs and giving tenants little time to react.
The victims, he said, died from burns and smoke inhalation, a lot of them fairly quickly. "Of those that tried, a few of them perished".
Children aged 1, 2 and 7 as well as a boy whose age was unknown died, along with four men and four women, according to the New York Police Department. Also identified as deceased were Maria Batiz, 58, and 19-year-old Shantay Young. Five of the building's residents were already dead when the fire department arrived three minutes after the first 911 call.
While the doors are required in any apartment building with more than three units, they sometimes do not work properly because they get clogged or dirty, NY fire-safety consultant Jim Bullock said. "Others were helped out onto the fire escapes, taken down by our members".
New York City is going through a bitter cold snap with temperatures in the low-teens Fahrenheit (minus teens Celsius) and high winds.
Father Jonathan Morris, pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in the Bronx, spent hours following the fire consoling families at hospitals as they grappled with the injury, loss or uncertainty of what would happen to their loved ones.
"Our prayers and thoughts are with the families that were affected", he said.
Footage taken at the site shows charred walls and stairs inside the building. Shards of glass and chunks of ice littered the sidewalk outside. One violation was for a broken smoke detector in an apartment on the first floor, reported in August. "Based on the research we have at this moment, it does not appear there was anything problematic about the building or the fire safety in the building".
The blaze broke out on Thursday evening in a 25-apartment building near the Bronx Zoo, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States financial capital. Excluding the September 11 attacks, it was the worst fire in the city since 87 people were killed at a social club fire in the Bronx in 1990. Another 10 people were killed at a Bronx fire in 2007, nine of them children.