A Thursday night apartment fire in the Bronx killed at least 12 people, including a child.
The building, writes The New York Times, contained some 29 flats and was built about 100 years ago.
While the cause of the conflagration is still under investigation, New York City officials are lamenting the loss of life. Mayor Bill de Blasio called it the “worst fire tragedy in this city in at least a quarter century.”
Four people were critically injured in the inferno, said de Blasio, and others were hurt. The mayor said it’s possible that more lives might be recorded lost, either from amidst the rubble or due to outstanding injuries.
“This will rank as one of the worst losses of life to a fire in many, many years,” said de Blasio in a press conference.
CNN reports that the fire started on the first floor of the five-story apartment complex, quickly spreading up toward the top of the building. The victims, who were between 1 and 50 years old in age, perished throughout the property.
City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the first call reporting the blaze came in at 6:51 EST. Personnel from the New York City Fire Department were on the scene within minutes.
“This tragedy is, without question, historic in its magnitude,” said Nigro. “Our hearts go out to every family who lost a loved one here and everyone fighting for their lives.”
“In a department that is surely no stranger to tragedy, we’re shocked by the lives lost.”
People gathered outside the apartment on the night of the fire shared their heart-wrenching concerns with CNN affiliate WPIX. One woman said she was waiting for news from her mother – the last communication she’d received was a text message, saying she was trapped in her third-floor flat.
Firefighters and first-responders claim to have rescued at least 12 people from the building. Mayor de Blasio said all of the 12 were expected to survive.
The inferno was apparently quenched some time around 10pm, just over three hours after it had started.
“We are closely monitoring the devastating fire in the Bronx. As always we are thankful for our first responders. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families tonight,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Twitter.
The event is the greatest loss of life from fire – 9/11 aside — since 87 people died at a Bronx social club in 1990.