NEW YORK (AP) — Nineteen people, including 9 children, have been killed in an apartment fire in New York City, in what the city’s fire commissioner called one of the worst blazes in recent memory.
The fire commissioner said that a malfunctioning electric space heater is believed to be the cause of the fire.
A fire official who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed the death toll Sunday to The Associated Press, while a city official who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed the number of children dead.
Dozens of people were injured and at least 32 people were hospitalized with life-threatening conditions. According to the FDNY, approximately 200 firefighters responded to the scene Sunday at the Twin Park apartments, a 19-story building on East 181st Street.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a press conference that firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest. That is unprecedented in our city. We expect there to be numerous fatalities.”
Video above shows press conference as the developments were breaking
According to Nigro, Sunday’s fire originated in a duplex apartment spanning the second and third floors. Firefighters found the door to the apartment open, he said, which apparently allowed the fire to accelerate and spread smoke upward quickly.
The fire is not believed to be suspicious in origin but the cause is under investigation.