At least 19 people are dead, including nine children, after a horrific fire broke out in a Bronx apartment building Sunday morning, according to a police official.
The five-alarm blaze broke out at 333 E 181st St, a 19-story building in the West Bronx, the FDNY said.
Around 200 FDNY members have responded to battle the inferno.
Fire officials have not confirmed any other fatalities but said that at least 32 people sustained life-threatening injuries. Among the dead is a 4-year old, according to police sources
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said authorities “expect there to be numerous fatalities, but we don’t know yet.”
Mayor Eric Adams was on the scene Sunday, calling the fire “a horrific, horrific painful moment for the City of New York.”
“The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in this city,” Adams said at a press conference. “This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed in the City of New York in modern times.”
Adams said there are currently 63 residents injured — 32 who have life-threatening injuries, nine with serious injuries, and 22 treated with non-life-threatening injuries. One FDNY member was also injured and brought to the hospital.
Nigro said at a presser that the department responded within three minutes and the fire spanned the second and the third floors.
“This smoke extended the entire height of the building, completely unusual,” he said. “Members found victims on every floor in stairwells.”
Nigro called the fire “unprecedented in our city.”
“The last time we had a loss of life that may be this horrific was at Happy Land Fire over 30 years ago here in the Bronx.”
Fire officials don’t yet know the origin of the fire.
“What I do know…is that the door to that apartment was left open causing the fire to spread and smoke to spread, which is always a problem for us. As we see here by the broken windows throughout the building, this fire took its toll on our city,” he said.
The building currently stands as a shell of its former self, with windows and multiple floors broken and obvious fire damage on the lower floors.
Cristal Diaz, 27, a resident of the 15th floor, grabbed cousins, her aunt and dog “Fluffy” when she realized there was a fire.
“I was drinking coffee in the living room and I started smelling smoke. We started putting water on towels and the bottom of the door. Everything was crazy,” Diaz said. “We didn’t know what to do. We looked out the windows and saw all the dead bodies they were taking with the blankets.
Alanny, 13, her niece, said, “We saw moms fainting. They saw their kids dying.”
“We saw a bunch of bodies coming out. People from my childhood were dying,” Alanny said.
Icy conditions made it tough to fight the fire, and the FDNY said it took more than an hour to put down the blaze.
Nearby resident Bella Ortiz, 42, said the situation was terrible.
“I don’t know of anyone died, but they were taking out a lot of unconscious people,” Ortiz said.
Harrowing images from the scene show a firefighter cradling a baby rescued from the fire, a victim on a stretcher, and a woman sitting on the ground being helped by paramedics with soot on her face.
“Something like this happens, but you never expect this to happen to you,” Diaz said.
The city’s deadliest blaze in more than a quarter-century killed 13 people — including a year-old child — in a Bronx apartment building the night of Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. The fire was the deadliest New York City blaze since 87 people perished in March 1990 in the Happy Land social-club arson attack, which took place less than a mile away.