NEW YORK (ABC) — At least 12 people, including a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old, have died in a massive apartment fire in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday night.
Calling the blaze “one of the worst loss-of-life fires in many, many years,” de Blasio said another four people were critically injured and “fighting for their lives.”
The fire is the deadliest in New York City — excluding the Sept. 11 attacks — since the Happy Land fire at a nightclub in the Bronx in March 1990, which killed 87 people.
Six people, including the four in critical condition, were taken to the hospital from the building at 2363 Prospect Ave. in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx.
“The search of the building continues so we know that even though it’s horrible to report 12 are dead already, we may lose others as well,” de Blasio said.
Five people were pronounced dead on the scene, while seven later died in area hospitals.
Four children were killed in the fast-moving blaze, including girls aged 1, 2 and 7. Police said a young boy was also killed, but had yet to be identified.
The 1-year-old was found with her mother in a bathtub, city officials said.
Three adult women — aged 19, 37 and 63 — were killed, while four adult men who were killed have yet to be identified. One woman has yet to be identified.
WABC reported one family is still looking for a missing son. The instability of the building has not allowed firefighters to make a full sweep of the building for any more fatalities.
“They were burned, even little kids on the stretchers, burned,” a resident of the building told New York ABC station WABC.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the fire broke out on the first floor of the five-story building and spread upstairs. He said it was “way too early to tell the cause.”
“As of now, this tragedy is without question historic in its magnitude,” Nigro said.
Someone on every floor of the five-story building was killed, according to city officials, who are still investigating why the blaze moved so quickly. Investigators are looking into the possibility the fire burned into a natural gas line in the building, per city officials.
“I came out through the window. Yeah, there was smoke everywhere. I couldn’t see the door. The door was … I couldn’t see the door. Was covered in smoke already,” Matthew Igbinetion, a building resident, told WABC.
More than 160 firefighters are braving frigid temperatures to battle the flames, the FDNY announced on Twitter.
The mayor said the fire was put out completely by the FDNY by 10 p.m.