The latest on the NYC Bronx apartment fire

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 2337 GMT (0737 HKT) January 10, 2022
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11:39 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

What we know about the investigation into the deadly Bronx apartment fire

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The investigation into the deadly Bronx fire will include whether the door to the apartment where the fire started had a malfunction and whether the buildings alarm system operated appropriately, New York City Mayor Eric Adams told CNN on Monday.

As several people remain in critical condition in various hospitals, there may be more loss of life, the mayor added.

“We were told and instructed that there were self-closing doors, we just need to look at the door to that apartment to see if there was any form of malfunction,” Adams told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on "New Day." “We can’t make a determination until the fire marshals conduct a thorough investigation.”

“We have a law here in NYC that requires doors to close automatically,” he continued. “We also want to double down on that PSA that I recall as a child .. close the doors."

The city will partner with the New York City Fire Department and the city's schools chancellor to get the message out, he said. “Such a powerful message could save so many lives," the mayor added.

At a news conference Sunday, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the door to the apartment did not close when its residents left. "The smoke spread throughout the building, thus, the tremendous loss of life and other people fighting for their lives right now in hospitals all over the Bronx," he said. 

Nigro said in addition to the door to the apartment where the fire originated being left open, at least one door was open from the stairwell to one of the upper floors.

Part of the investigation also will include why, as one resident put it, smoke alarms went off frequently, Adams said.

“Were going to look at that system and ensure that the alarms system didn’t repeatedly malfunction, and this is a wakeup call for all of our buildings. Do proper testing and ensure that complaints of repeated smoke alarms going off without any real smoke or fire? We need to make sure these systems operate because they save lives," the mayor said.

When asked if the building was up to fire code, Adams said, “I believe that based on the preliminary report that it was up to the current standard.”

“These buildings were built prior to many of our new fire codes that were put in place, and once we have the report from the fire marshal we will be able to make a thorough evaluation on what needs to be done and how we move forward," the mayor said.

Later when pressed again whether it was up to new codes given the age of the building, he explained that “it depends on what the actual code is,” including how the ventilation systems are laid out.

There’s a series of corrections that can often be made immediately, he said, but then separately buildings can also receive waivers. Adams said all this information will come out in the fire marshal's report.

A resident had complained of a lack of lighting in the stairwells on CNN's "New Day" earlier Monday, and Adams said the investigation will also look into whether there was proper lighting.

12:06 p.m. ET, January 10, 2022

19 dead, including 9 children, in Bronx apartment fire

From CNN's Eric Levenson, Alaa Elassar, Laura Studley and Elizabeth Joseph

The Bronx apartment building a day after a deadly fire swept through the complex on Sunday.
The Bronx apartment building a day after a deadly fire swept through the complex on Sunday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A major fire in a residential apartment building in the Bronx in New York City on Sunday left 19 people dead, including 9 children, in what Mayor Eric Adams described as one of the worst fires the city has experienced in modern times.

The blaze sent 32 people to hospitals with life-threatening conditions, Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, said earlier Sunday. A total of 63 people were injured.

A "malfunctioning electric space heater" was the source of the fire, Nigro said during a press conference. The heater was in the bedroom of an apartment, and the fire consumed the room and then the entire apartment, he said.

The apartment door was left open and smoke spread throughout the building when the residents left their unit, Nigro said.

"This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York, and the impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of just pain and despair in our city," Adams said.

About 200 members of the New York City Fire Department responded to the fire at the 19-story building at 333 East 181st Street. The fire began a little before 11 a.m. in a duplex apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building, the FDNY said.

Firefighters were met by "very heavy smoke, very heavy fire" in the hallways.

Victims were found in stairways on every floor of the building, many in cardiac arrest, in what Nigro said could be an unprecedented loss of life. The injuries were predominantly from smoke inhalation, he said.

Firefighters kept attempting to save people from the building despite running out of air tank, Nigro said. Some of the residents who were trying to leave the building could not "escape because of the volume of smoke."

The FDNY posted several images of the scene showing ladders extending into apartment windows as well as a number of broken windows.

"This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times here in the city of New York," Adams said.

Read more about the fire here.