Bronx Fire Live Updates: Leaders Propose Task Force to Examine Fire Safety

Live Updates

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Bronx apartment building
The Bronx apartment building stands a day after a fire swept through the complex killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens of others, many of them seriously on January 10, 2022 in New York City. The five-alarm NYC fire began around 11 am Sunday when a space heater caught fire inside of a duplex apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the 19-story apartment building. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Leaders propose task force to examine fire safety

Federal and local leaders examine how to improve and better enforce fire safety laws in the aftermath of Sunday's deadly fire.

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, New York City Councilmembers Oswald Feliz and Pierina Sanchez and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson discussed the creation of a fire safety taskforce Monday morning.

In a tweet, Feliz said the task force would examine and strengthen "current fire-related laws and enforcement of such laws."

Rep. Torres spoke about the issue during an interview Monday on MSNBC.

"This is an affordable housing development," Torres said. "There is a lack of investment in affordable housing in America, a lack of federal investment in affordable housing."

"And when we allow our affordable housing developments to be plagued by decades of disinvestment, we are putting lives at risk. These buildings are wide open to catastrophic fires that can cost people their lives," Torres said.

One of the most deadly fires in NYC history

Sunday's devastating apartment fire was among the deadliest in New York City history, and the worst in two decades.

Seventeen people were killed and dozens more were hurt.

The Associated Press released a list of the deadliest building fires in city history. Topping the list is the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center which claimed around 2,750 lives.

A fire set by an arsonist at Happy Land in the Bronx killed 87 people in March of 1990.

A fire at the Puerto Rican Social Club, also in the Bronx, killed 25 people in October of 1976. Officials say that fire was also intentionally set.

One of the deadliest in city history was a fire inside a Brooklyn theater in December of 1876. AP reports the fire started near the end of a performance of "The Two Orphans," at least 278 people died.

How to help displaced families

Multiple fundraisers have been set up to help the victims of the Bronx apartment fire and their families.

A GoFundMe has raised more than $520,000 in less than one day. Organizer Salim Drammeh said all proceeds will be distributed to the families by the Gambian Youth Organization (GYO).

New York City is accepting monetary donations through the Mayor's Fund.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul will launch a Victims Compensation Fund as part of the budget later this month.

Local residents and organizations, including the Bronx Democratic Party, are collecting supplies, including jackets and other essential supplies.

The Bronx Democratic Party said the response has been incredible and is now only accepting gift cards for transportation, meal delivery or laundry services.

Non-profit Giving Friends is donating coats, toiletries and other essential items to displaced families.

'Space heaters need space,' FDNY shares safety video

The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) shared safety tips regarding space heater usage following the deadly apartment fire.

"Space heaters need space," FDNY Lt. Tom McGarry said in a video posted on Twitter Monday.

"If you're using a space heater to stay warm, keep you and your family safe by keeping the space heater at least 3 feet away from bedding, curtains and other materials."

McGarry also said to never use an extension cord.

"Turn off the space heater before leaving the room or going to sleep and remember that the use of kerosene or propane space heaters is illegal in New York City."

Service center open at Monroe

The New York City Emergency Management office set up a service center for displaced residents of the Bronx fire at Monroe College.

The center is located in Ustin Hall on 2375 Jerome Ave in the Bronx and will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. this week to offer assistance to anyone in need, OEM Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell said.

During a press briefing Monday, Farrell some of the apartment can be reoccupied soon, while other may not be ready for a long time. The city, state and other partners are working to rehouse residents affected by the fire.

The American Red cross is providing emergency housing and meals to those impacted by the fire.

"The American Red Cross has been working around the clock to help affected families," the organization said in a statement to Newsweek. "As part of our assistance last night on scene, the Red Cross provided emergency housing to 22 families (56 adults and 25 children). At a local Reception Center at a nearby school, the Red Cross also served 275 meals and snacks."

Red Cross caseworkers will also be at the Monroe College service center to register families for assistance and provide emotional and mental health support to families in need.

Mayor Eric Adams meets with first responders

Mayor Eric Adams met with some of the first responders from Sunday's deadly fire in the Bronx.

He met with the fire crew of the Webster Avenue Fire House and the EMS FDNY house in the Bronx.

Fire Marshal deems fire an accident, says smoke alarms were 'operational'

The FDNY Fire Marshal confirmed the Bronx fire was accidental and was caused by a malfunctioning space heater.

The investigation also determined smoke alarms "present and operational."

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the fire was contained to the hallway outside the two-story apartment, but the smoke traveled throughout the building. He said "the deaths and the serious injuries" were caused by the smoke.

Nigro added that the stairwells were "very dangerous" because doors were left open, allowing smoke to spread.

While the building doors were self-closing, Nigro said the door of the apartment where the fire started and the door on the 15th floor were left open.

These doors were "not functioning as they should," he said.

President Biden offers condolences to Mayor Adams

President Joe Biden called New York City Mayor Eric Adams to share his condolences for the deadly Bronx fire.

"Today, the President spoke with New York City Mayor Eric Adams to express his heartfelt s and offer support following yesterday's devastating fire at a Bronx apartment building," the White House said in a statement.

Adams said Biden "made it clear that whatever we need, the White House is going to be there for us."

He added that Biden said this fire is on "the radar of the entire globe."

Adams defends family who left door open during fire

Mayor Eric Adams defended the family who left their door open when escaping the fire in their apartment.

Adams said he does not want to "add further trauma on the family" because they left the door open when they fled their apartment.

He said their "muscle memory" was to just get out of the apartment and said he does not want to blame them because "all of us make mistakes during a crisis."

"They were simply trying to escape a frightening experience," he said.

Adams added it's the city's job to reinforce the "close the door" message to promote fire safety.

Mayor to double down on 'close the door' safety message

Mayor Eric Adams said he wants to reinforce "close the door" education following the devastating apartment fire in the Bronx.

"If we take one message from this," Adams said, "close the door."

Closing the door to a bedroom or an apartment can prevent the spread of fire and smoke.

Adams said that message was embedded in his head as a child while watching commercials and the city will "double down" on that message.

He said the city will send information to schools to reinforce the message in the minds of children.

"If we can drill that in, we can save lives," he said. "This painful moment can turn into a purposeful moment."

Death toll revised

The initial death toll from the fire has been revised.

A total of 17 people have died so far, Mayor Eric Adams said during a press briefing Monday, including nine adults and eight children.

This is two fewer people than originally reported Sunday.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said it appears victims taken to hospital may have been "double counted."

He added that "this number could unfortunately increase again."

Firefighters continued rescue effort with empty oxygen tanks

Some of the 200 firefighters who responded to the Bronx building fire continued rescue efforts with empty oxygen tanks.

"Many of them, their oxygen tanks were on empty but instead of turning back and exiting the building, they pushed through, through the smoke," Mayor Eric Adams said during an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

According to James McCarthy, the president of the FDNY-Uniformed Fire Officers Association, firefighters carry a cylinder with 45 minutes of air.

During a press call Monday, he said there is 10 to 13 minutes of "escape time" when an alarm will sound to indicate oxygen is running low to allow firefighters to leave the building.

Many of them operated while those alarms were going off and ran out of air, McCarthy said, "just to save as many lives as possible."

He said it's another example of firefighters working "above and beyond the call of duty" and the bravery of the FDNY members.

Mayor says this fire is a 'wakeup call' for city buildings

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said this incident should be a "wakeup call."

There are reports from residents that the smoke alarm in the building went off frequently so many assumed this fire was a false alarm.

Adams said the city will look into whether the buildings smoke alarm system repeatedly malfunctioned.

"This is a wakeup call for all of our buildings," he said.

He said the city and building operators need to do proper smoke detector testing and follow through on complaints about alarms going off when there is no fire.

"We need to make sure these systems operate because they save lives," he said. "We are going to learn from this moment."

"The only way we can prevent tragedy of this proportion is to continue to rectify and correct any problems that we see," he added.

Fire union officials say there were no sprinklers in the building

Fire union officials said there were no sprinklers in the building.

"To my knowledge, there was no sprinkler [system]," Andrew Ansbro, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said during a press call Monday.

Ansbro added that this building is "well known" in fire department records, including a fire 35 years ago.

The building is federally funded and, therefore, has a different set of fire codes and standards than city-funded buildings, according to James McCarthy, the FDNY-Uniformed Fire Officers Association President.

"The building was built with federal subsidies," McCarthy said, so it doesn't "have to adhere to New York City fire codes." Therefore, there are different fire protections than other high rises in the city.

McCarthy said this creates a "more dangerous atmosphere" in federally-funded buildings.

He added that this building may not have had to follow the city law requiring doors to automatically close to prevent the spread of fires or smoke.

McCarthy added the fire marshal investigation may provide more insight into the differences in fire codes and safety standards for this building compared to city-run apartments.

Mayor says death toll may rise

Mayor Eric Adams said the death toll from the deadly Bronx fire is expected to rise.

Adams told CNN's Brianna Keilar he believes the death toll will "unfortunately" rise.

There are many people still in hospital in life-threatening injuries.

"We have several people who are in critical conditions right now. We pray to God they are able to pull through," he said. "But we may have the possibility of increasing the loss of life."

Open door may be to blame for smoke spread, Mayor says

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said this was a "horrific day" during an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" the day after the deadly apartment fire.

He said the investigation from city fire marshals is ongoing and noted that an open apartment door may have contributed to the spread of the smoke.

"It appears the ability to have the smoke spread is due to the door being open," Adams said.

He mentioned there is a city law that states the door should "close automatically."

"There may have been a maintenance issue with this door and that will be part of the ongoing investigation," he added.

Adams added that there were no outstanding issues with the building.