New York fire caused by child playing - Mayor

  • 30/12/2017

A child playing with a stove may have caused the fire in a New York City apartment building that killed 12 people, including four children, says Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The fire - the deadliest in the city in a quarter of a century - broke out a little before 7pm on Thursday (local time), on the first floor of a brick building in the Bronx borough, and quickly spread upstairs, killing people on several floors.

"What we think at this point is that, unfortunately, it emanated from an accident, a young child playing with a stove on the first floor of the building," Mr de Blasio told WNYC radio.

Children, aged one, two and seven, died, along with four men and four women, local media reported. An unidentified boy also died.

Authorities said firefighters rescued 12 people from the building and four people are in hospital in critical condition.

The building, with 26 apartments, has at least six open building code violations, according to city records.

One violation was for a broken smoke detector in an apartment on the first floor, reported in August.

It was not clear if the detector had been fixed or replaced or whether it had played any role in the fire.

"I know there were concerns raised about the building itself," Mr de Blasio told WNYC. "Based on the research we have at this moment, it does not appear there was anything problematic about the building or the fire safety in the building."

The building is in the Belmont section of the Bronx, a primarily residential, close-knit neighbourhood known as the "Little Italy" of the borough, near Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo.

New York is going through a bitter cold snap. with freezing temperatures and high winds, which according to one media account, stoked flames inside the building, as residents flung open doors and windows.

Wherever fire hoses sprayed, the ground was covered with sheets of ice, according to an NY1 reporter.

More than 160 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze, which is the city's deadliest since 1990.