Twelve, Including a Child, Dead in Massive Bronx Fire as Firefighters Battle Blaze in Freezing Cold

NY Daily News - December 29, 2017

by MICAH DANNEY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA JOHN ANNESE ANDREW KESHNER ESHA RAY

One of the deadliest fires in recent history tore through a Bronx building on a frigid Thursday and took at least 12 lives — including a one-year-old child.

The Belmont building fire was “an unspeakable tragedy,” Mayor de Blasio said, noting victims ranged from the toddler to a person in their 50s.

“We’re shocked by this loss,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, calling the tragedy “historic.”

Five people perished inside the five-story, 25-apartment building and seven died at two hospitals, despite best efforts to save them, authorities said.

Four others were in critical condition at St. Barnabas Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center.

Twelve other people were rescued from the building on Prospect Ave. at E. 187th St., de Blasio said.

More than 160 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze near the Bronx Zoo.

The inferno broke out at 6:51 p.m. on the first floor and quickly spread upward.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Sources said the blaze may have been sparked by a space heater, but de Blasio said it was too early in the investigation to tell.

The Belmont building fire was “an unspeakable tragedy,” Mayor de Blasio said, noting victims ranged from the toddler to a person in their 50s.

“We’re shocked by this loss,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, calling the tragedy “historic.”

Five people perished inside the five-story, 25-apartment building and seven died at two hospitals, despite best efforts to save them, authorities said.

Mother, 3 kids killed in house fire likely caused by menorah Four others were in critical condition at St. Barnabas Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center.

Twelve other people were rescued from the building on Prospect Ave. at E. 187th St., de Blasio said.

More than 160 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze near the Bronx Zoo.

The inferno broke out at 6:51 p.m. on the first floor and quickly spread upward.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Sources said the blaze may have been sparked by a space heater, but de Blasio said it was too early in the investigation to tell.

Bundled-up child peeps out from a blanket as residents wait in the street during a deadly 4-alarm fire at their Bronx apartment building Thursday night. Deadly fire breaks out in the Bronx Smoke eaters were battling cold and icy conditions as they fought the flames.

Wind chill made it feel like one degree outside, according to the National Weather Service.

Witnesses recalled terror in the bone-chilling night.

Luc Hernandez, a fourth-floor resident, said she came home about 15 minutes after the fire started and “saw black smoke everywhere.”

The shaken 37-year-old told the Daily News she rushed into her apartment, grabbed her 11 and 7-year-old boys and scrambled down the fire escape.

Shivering underneath a Red Cross blanket, Hernandez said she saw other neighbors rushing down the escape.

Someone who lives across the street from the blaze said he saw children rushing down fire escapes.

“All they had was shorts and shirts,” Rafael Gonzalez said. “No socks. No nothing. I know they were cold. They were screaming for help.”

Gonzalez, 19, said it seemed like the firefighters were so busy battling the blaze they couldn’t help the kids right away.

Milka Garcia, who lives on the fifth floor of the building, said she came home to find her children had been evacuated.

Garcia, 40, said her three kids — one girl and two boys — saw tons of smoke and had to get out through an emergency door.

She said her 10-year-old daughter went to school with one of the victims, who's about 8-years-old, at Public School 205.

“This is horrible," Garcia said of the fire. “It makes me sad because they were my neighbors, and friends of my daughter's.”

Just under two weeks ago, a Brooklyn fire killed a mother and three of her children. In April blaze claimed the lives of four children and an adult.

And in 2015, another Brooklyn fire ripped through a house, killing seven children in the middle of the night.