Around eleven am eastern time on Sunday, January 9th, 2022, a fire started on the second and third floors of a high-rise apartment building in the Bronx. It quickly spread out of control and managed to injure dozens and has killed 19 people so far, 9 of which were children. The smoke itself has been determined to be the killing factor as it suffocated and trapped dozens of residents above where the actual fire was burning.
The building which has been up since the 1970’s is 19 stories and houses 120 units of which the second and third floors are combined for duplex style living. Firefighters reported rescuing people on every single floor of the Bronx high-rise apartment when a door was left open, allowing the fire and more importantly, the smoke to spread throughout the building.
Most people who stayed inside for the duration of the fire did so because the building frequently had false fire alarms. Assuming it was another occasion of the alarms being triggered over nothing more than something burning in a kitchen, residents only realized their mistake after seeing thick black smoke coming in under their doorways or looking into the hallways. By then it was too late to brave the blackened, smoky hallways and stairwells. Many watered-down towels and shoved them against the bottoms of their front doors to prevent smoke from getting inside.
Approximately 200 FDNY members are operating on scene of a 5-alarm fire at 333 East 181 Street in the Bronx. There are currently 31 serious injuries to civilians. pic.twitter.com/yrTYwOfonH
— FDNY (@FDNY) January 9, 2022
Windows were smashed as fire fighters made rescues with ladders along some of the lower floors.
More than 60 men, women, or children were sent to the hospital with at least half critically injured, though firefighters announced that they hadn’t seen any burn injuries, just severe smoke inhalation. Thanks to the “unprecedented” amount of smoke, firefighters began to run out of supplies, most notably their oxygen, but that didn’t stop the firefighters from continuing rescue efforts according to Bronx Mayor, Eric Adams.
So what caused the fire? It was determined that a malfunctioning space heater was responsible for the deadly blaze.
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Further investigation is ongoing as to why the doors, which are supposed to have spring loaded mechanisms that force the doors to close, were found open and not working properly.
While this fire is the first of such severity in the past thirty years, there was a fire in Philidelphia on Wednesday, January 5th, 2021 that claimed the lives of 12 individuals, 8 children and four adults. At least four smoke detectors were not operational and had not been checked since May of 2021.
The fire took place in the Fairmont Apartments which are duplexes as well. Firefighters arrived on scene at approximately 6:40 am and said that while the bottom floor residents got out of their apartment quickly, the floor above suffered the larger majority of fatalities as they were not able to escape.
Many outlets reported that 13 people had died, but the number is and has been officially repeated as 12 casualties. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though over the past few days several news agencies have reported that a five-year-old may have ignited a Christmas tree while playing with a lighter. Nothing has yet been verified or made official as of the writing of this article.