Open door may have contributed to death toll in New York fire, mayor says

The blaze killed 19 people, including nine children, in a Bronx apartment

By Reuters

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Published: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 10:00 PM

New York City authorities on Monday were investigating a possible “maintenance issue” with a door that failed to close when fire erupted in a Bronx apartment building a day earlier, killing 19 people, including nine children.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, just over a week into the job, was expected to share more details on Monday regarding the fire that broke out on Sunday morning in the 19-floor Twin Parks North West building, which provided affordable housing units for low-income New Yorkers. Many of the residents were from the large Gambian community that lived in the neighborhood.

Earlier in the day on “Good Morning America,” Adams said smoke from the fire was able to spread due to a door being open. Doors in apartment houses are required to close automatically to prevent fires from spreading through the building.


“There may have been a maintenance issue with this door and that is going to be part of the ongoing investigation,” Adams said. “This is all going to come out during the investigation.”

Some 60 people were injured in the blaze and 32 people had been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, officials said on Sunday.

Fire marshals determined through physical evidence and accounts from residents the fire started in a portable electric heater in the apartment’s bedroom, the city’s fire department commissioner, Daniel Nigro, said.

He added the heat had been on in the apartment building and the portable heater had been supplementing that heating, he said.

The catastrophe was likely to stir questions on safety standards in low-income city housing. This was the second major deadly fire in a residential complex in the United States this week after twelve people, including eight children, were killed early on Wednesday when flames swept through a public housing apartment building in Philadelphia.

Some 200 firefighters helped put out the blaze.

“Many of them, of their oxygen tanks were on empty,” Adams said on Monday. “But instead of turning back and exiting the building, they pushed through, through the smoke.”

Many of the building’s residents were from the small west-African country of Gambia.

The building is owned by a joint venture, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, made up of three firms: LIHC Investment Group, Belveron Partners and Camber Property Group.

The building was constructed in 1972 as part of a state program to provide affordable housing, a spokesperson for the joint venture said. All 120 units are covered by subsidy programs, the spokesperson said.

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