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Child Playing with Stove Sparks Fire that Killed 12; Cities Across U.S. Beef Up Security for New Year's Eve; New Year's Eve Temps Set to Break Records & Trump Tweets Need "Global Warming". Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired December 29, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:39] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Several New York City families are grappling with an unspeakable tragedy. Twelve people are dead, including a 3-year-old girl, and three other children after a kitchen fire raced through this Bronx apartment building. New York's fire commissioner says this fire started last night when a 3-year-old boy was playing with burners on a stove. The flames quickly spread up to the higher floors trapping several people. Some jumped to safety through the fire escapes.


UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER: Giving us a baby, apartment 13, baby trapped.

UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER: People trapped, apartment 13. We have a baby in there. Also apartment six, people trapped. Bunch of calls on this. Fire multiple zones.

UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER: Rush. We have a 1045 child. We have a second 1045 in front of the building, an adult.


CABRERA: Officials also say several other people were injured, four critically. Several firefighters were hurt. This was city's deadliest fire in more than 25 years.

CNN's Scott McLean is on the scene for us.

Scott, such a terrible tragedy. Officials said this was not the first time this child was caught playing with the stove.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Ana. This child had habit of history of playing with the burners on the stove, according to the New York fire commissioner. This time, deadly consequences. When the mother of the child, who was also in the apartment at the time, realized there was fire, she took her two children outside of the apartment, but left the door open. That allowed the flames to spread into the hallway and then into the stairwell. Which, according to the fire commissioner, created a bit of a chimney effect, allowing the flames to quickly rise to higher floors and trapping people on those upper floors, making it impossible for them to exit the building via the stairs. That means that most people got pushed out onto those fire exists. In fact, firefighters say when they arrived there were some 20 people waiting for them to come down off those fire escapes or to be pulled off by firefighters.

All told, 12 people were killed, ranging from infants to a 63-year-old woman. We know that at least there were at least four children and at least three of them were under the age of 10.

We spoke to a man named called Fernando Batist (ph), he actually lost two people in this fire. One, his sister. And also his granddaughter.. Listen.


FERNANDO BATIST (ph), LOST FAMILY MEMBERS IN FIRE: We rushed over here and came across two, the mother of the baby, and her sister, which is my sister's daughters, and they didn't know anything. They were trying to locate her. Couldn't find her. We came out to find out this morning that she's one of the past, one of the people who passed away. I'm shocked right now. I don't know how to react. I'm just like numb.

MCLEAN: Now according to public records, there are 29 suites in this apartment or in this building. It had a routine inspection in August of this year where there were six open violations found. Two of them had to do with defective carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in a suite on the first floor, not the suite where the fire originated. Now the landlord owner of this building had 30 days to fix these problems and certify they were fixed but according to that city department, they were never certified that they were actually remedied or fixed. So it is possible that they were fixed, but it was never reported.

But the fire commissioner says it is simply unclear at this point whether or not those smoke detectors were working and whether or not that may have played any kind of role at all in this case -- Ana?

CABRERA: Such a tragedy situation.

Scott McLean, thank you.

Major cities across the country, including New York, stepping up security for the New Year's Eve celebrations. Las Vegas, Boston, they all have plans to enhance police presence this weekend. There will be many more officers walking the streets around New York's time square. Revelers can expect to see extra checkpoints.

Joining us now is Athena Jones, CNN national correspondent, and Charles Ramsey, CNN law enforcement analyst and former police chief in Washington and former police commissioner in Philadelphia.

Athena, I'll start with you.

The mayor says there is no active or credible threat against the city of New York. This is purely cautionary in terms of the different procedures they are implementing. What more can you tell us about the security plans?

[14:35:19] ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. That's right. This is of course iconic event, New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square and massive security challenge. As you mentioned, the mayor and other authorities say there is no direct credible threat to New York in general, but advising folks to remain vigilant as always. And there is a stepped-up police presence this year. This is always a big security set up. There are going to be even more police this year. And that is in part because of the two recent terror attacks in New York. The Halloween left people 8 dead and just a few weeks ago that tried to detonate a bomb in the subway system a few weeks from here. That is why we'll see more uniformed officers out here. We'll see more dogs. And also more heavy weapons teams. This whole area where I'm standing and several blocks is going to be shut down starting early Sunday morning. There will be 12 access points that spectators can come in through. They'll see teams of police officers with heavy weapons, bomb sniffing dogs. They will have equipment to detect radiological material. Also trucks to help block off the area to prevent any sort of vehicle attack. And we know that among the other measures will be roof top observation, counter sniper teams, 125 parking garages in this area will be sealed. So they are taking a lot of steps to make sure that this celebration is a secure one. Authorities expect up to two million people will be out to ring in the New Year, ring in 2018. And as I said they say to everyone if you see something, say something to help make sure this event is kept safe -- Ana?

CABRERA: Athena Jones, stand by as I bring in Chief Ramsey.

Of course, Athena mentioned some of these attacks that happened in the last year. So officials are making adjustments based on lessons learned. Weighing heavily, of course, is the Las Vegas shooting, subway explosion in New York City, also the car attack in October.

Chief Ramsey, does this year feel different to you?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it is a little different. Obviously, that's why you have stepped-up presence, not just in New York, but in cities across America. New Year's Eve celebrations will be taking place everywhere. And so police will be very concerned about security at these locations. They certainly already have plans in place because this happens every year, obviously. But they'll be stepped-up surveillance, stepped-up police presence. Various things that they'll do to really be alert. But I think Athena mentioned it at the very end, we still rely on people. If you see something that doesn't look right, call the police, let us check it out.

CABRERA: We heard Athena tick through some of the different measures they'll put in place, including the additional snipers, closing the garages in Times Square. If you were working security for an event here in New York City, at the big ball drop, what would keep you up at night?

RAMSEY: Well, the unexpected. When you look at this, you can plan all you want, and they have excellent plans. I don't think anybody does it any better than New York City. But you always have to think about the unexpected. Just look at Las Vegas, for an example, they had a good security plan for the venue. But who would have thought somebody would break out a window at the hotel and begin shooting at the people that were gathered there for the concert. It's the unexpected that you have to prepare for, the lone wolf, an individual wants to take advantage of the situation. New York has it covered as well as anybody could possibly cover it. And I'm sure that holds true for other cities as well. That's why we need the public's help in order to make sure that everyone can celebrate and celebrate safely.

[14:40:10] CABRERA: Charles Ramsey, thank you.

Thanks to Athena Jones as well.

Don't miss big New Year's Eve celebration on CNN. If you don't want to brave the cold, you can tune in on TV, two best friends, one epic night ringing in the New Year's Eve with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. It's the New Year's Eve live celebration begins here at 8:00 p.m. here on CNN.

Up next, if you think it's cold out there today, just wait. Temps for New Year's Eve set to break records. Just how cold is it going to be? Well, cold enough for President Trump to suggest in a tweet that the east coast could use, quote, "a little bit of global warming."


CABRERA: If you are planning on ringing in the New Year's Eve outside, you might want a blanket, earmuffs, warm hat, maybe some of the hand and foot warmers, hot chocolate, and the list could go on and on. Because a brutal freezing, historic snowfalls. Like in Erie, Pennsylvania, where record five-and-a-half feet of snow right now. National Guard members are helping to shovel that snow as fast as they can, to help dig out their families. Look at the rooftops. Right now, look at Upstate New York, not far from U.S. border, with Canada, about six degrees, 22 inches of snow.

President Trump turning to Twitter to tell his views on this blast. Tweeting, quote, "In the east, it could be coldest New Year's Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming that our country, but not other countries, was going to pay trillions of dollars to protect against. Bundle up."

Ironically, President Trump tweeting that from Mar-a-Lago, his private beach resort in Florida. Right there, it's 71 degrees. Compare that to the 2 degrees at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota where temps are expected to drop to 7 below. That doesn't include the wind chill.

Let's go to Meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

Allison, explain the difference. When we look at that tweet from the president, there is a difference between global warming, which has to do with climate, and weather.

[14:45:21] ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. A huge difference, Ana. The best analogy I can give you is weather is your outfit you are wearing today. Climate is your entire wardrobe. It includes patterns and trends, it evolves over time. That's a huge difference. That's what people are missing. It's also all about perspective. Here's a look at North America right now. Blue regions are areas well below average. The orange color are well above average. So, yes, we've been setting a lot of record lows in this blue region. But what people don't realize is in the southwest we hit over a dozen high temperatures yesterday. But for a lot of folks it's all about where you are. If you are experiencing it, then that must be happening in a lot of other places. When you look at the global scale, though, here's a look. Notice that really it's that North American section is the only section where we are seeing those temperatures well below average.

You also have to look at the long-term, because that's what climate is. Climate is the long-term scale. When we look at the whole of 2017, we've had over 33,000 record high temperatures. But not even 9,000 record low temperatures. Now again we talked about it. It's all about perspective. What's happening where you are. And that's just it. For the folks in the northeast, it's going to be incredibly cold not just for the next couple of days but likely for the next week. Which means if you have some plans for New Year's to be in New York City, you'll need to bundle up, not just one layer, maybe like seven or 10 layers. The temperature will be hanging onto double digits. But the feels-like temperature is well into the negative numbers.

The other thing you have to note is, yes, it's cold in New York City in the winter, but this is cold for them. This will likely the coldest New Year's Eve in New York since the 1960s.

The other thing you have to understand, it's not just New York. If you have New Year's plans in other cities -- take a look at Boston, high of 14. Monday, 11. Chicago 13 high on Sunday with a high of 5 on Monday morning. Minneapolis, if the high is only minus-5, Ana, you can only image what the low will be that night when people are outside for the celebration.

For any of these cities, the more layers you can put on, the better off you'll be.

CABRERA: High of negative 5. I just don't see how those two things go together.


CABRERA: Brr. Allison Chinchar, thank you for that update. That is dangerously cold.

Thank you.

Up next, he was given a 1 percent chance to live. Detective Dan Brite wasn't ready to hand in his badge just yet. A remarkable survival story of this Colorado cop shot on the job. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:52:22] CABRERA: The bullet that hit a Colorado detective responding to a call did so much damage. Doctors gave him less than a 1 percent chance of survival. Well, more than a year later, that detective is back on duty pushing past his brush with death and challenging the odds again.

CNN's Polo Sandoval shows us how he is going "Beyond the Call of Duty."


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colorado Detective Dan Brite can no longer rush out the door with the rest of the SWAT team, but his devotion to duty hasn't faltered. He is back with the deputies who sworn he would never leave.



SANDOVAL: Officers were called to a Denver suburb following reports of a suicidal man. He was armed, in an R.V., and dangerously close to a middle school and hospital. Before Denver Park police officer, Ronnie Derail (ph), shot and killed the suspect


SANDOVAL: investigators says the gunman used an A.K.-47 to spray bullets at the hospital and at deputies. One of them changed Dan Brite's life forever.

DAN BRITE, DENVER PARK DETECTIVE: It entered the side and took out 30 percent of my left lung. Damaged my diaphragm. Damaged my stomach and it took out my entire spleen.

CHRISTINE BRIGHT, WIFE OF DET. DAN BRITE: I think I went into shock.

SANDOVAL: Christine Brite's husband of 14 years was in the fight of his life.

BRITE: I was dead when I went in the doors. And Dr. Michael, he literally held my heart in his hands and massaged it back to life. I had less than 1 percent chance of survival.

CHRISTINE BRITE: All I kept whispering to him, don't leave me. You have these two little girls. They need you.

SANDOVAL: The former Marine beat those odds. Nine days after the shooting, he woke up. Four months after that, he was heading home.



SANDOVAL: He lost use of his legs and told, at best, he has 3 percent chance of walking again. He's looking to beat the odds on his own. BRITE: Feels good.

SANDOVAL: With help from his wife and a pair of leg braces, Brite is taking baby steps. It's a long and, at times, painful road to recovery.

At home, a different reality sets in.

BRITE: I'm watching my 10-year-old have to shovel the snow. Coming from a lifestyle that I did everything, that's a huge blow.

SANDOVAL: There is hope there that Brite will wear robotic legs.

BRITE: When we tried them out for the first time, it was very emotional because it felt good to be 5'10" again.

SANDOVAL: Each arduous step bringing Brite closer to walking again.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Littleton, Colorado.


[14:55:09] CABRERA: What a guy. We salute you.

Straight ahead, the president now says he thinks Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be fair to him. But also believes the Russia probe is making it the country look, quote, "very bad." Details on Trump's wide-ranging and impromptu interview with the "New York Times."


[14:59:55] CABRERA: Top of the hour. I'm Ana Cabrera. Hello on this Friday.

We begin again with that unbridled interview with the "New York Times." President Trump weighing in on the Russia investigation, saying he expects Special Counsel Robert Mueller will treat him fairly. But he says this investigation, in the president's words, quote, "Makes the country look very bad."