A dozen people are dead after a fearsome fire swept through an apartment block in Little Italy late Thursday night.
“We’re here at the scene of an unspeakable tragedy. In the middle of the holiday season is a time when families are together. Tonight, here in the Bronx, there are families that have been torn apart,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference after the city’s firefighters managed to put out the blaze.
The fire began around 7 p.m. in a residential area of Little Italy located in the Bronx’s Belmont area, according to NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, Reuters reports.
Four men and four women are reported dead, as well as four young children. A one and two-year-old are among the deceased. Another four people are in critical condition.
“People were screaming and that’s how we knew there was trouble,” one eyewitness, Kimberly Wilkins, told WCBS-TV. “People were screaming, ‘Fire. Help. Fire. Help.'”
“What woke me up was the smoke, because I thought it was my building,” said another witness, Rafael Gonzalez.
Tonight in the Bronx we’ve seen the worst fire tragedy in at least a quarter of a century. It is an unspeakable tragedy, and families have been torn apart. pic.twitter.com/0kCFMzxt79
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 29, 2017
“People died on various floors of the apartment, ranging in age from 1 to over 50,” Nigro told reporters at a joint press conference with de Blasio. “In a department that is surely no stranger to tragedy, we’re shocked by the lives lost.”
“I want to offer my prayers to all the families who have lost their loved ones this evening or who are struggling. I ask all New Yorkers to keep them in your prayers, too,” De Blasio tweeted. He also thanked the NYC fire department and and first responders for their quick action and bravery, as well as the medical staff at Jacobi Medical Center helping those in critical condition.
More than 160 firefighters worked to put out the fire and rescued a dozen victims from the blaze.
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