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Friday, 29 December 2017

First Identified Victims Of Bronx Fire That killed 12 As Mayor De Blasio Reveals The City's Worst Blaze For 25 Years Was Caused By A Three-Year-old Boy Playing With A Stove

At least 12 people die in Bronx apartment fire
Investigators in New York City searched early on Friday for the cause of a fast-moving blaze that ripped through an apartment building in the Bronx and killed at least 12 people, including four children, and left 15 others injured. Officials say the youngest victim in the fire that destroyed an apartment building near the Bronx Zoo is a one-year-old girl who died in a bathtub being held by her mother, who also perished in the blaze. The other three children who died were two girls aged two and seven and an unidentified boy. Three women aged 19, 37 and 63 have also been identified by police. 

The five-alarm fire broke out a little before 7pm on the first floor of a brick building at East 185th Street and Prospect Avenue and quickly spread upstairs, city Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said alongside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during a press conference. The cause of the city's deadliest fire in at least a quarter of a century was under investigation. Investigators said a natural gas line may have fueled the flames of the blaze. 

Tragic: Officials say the youngest victim in the fire that destroyed the apartment building near the Bronx Zoo is an eight-month-old girl (center) who died in a bathtub being held by her 56-year-old grandmother, Maria Batiz (left), who also perished in the blaze. The child's mother, Christine (right), is distraught by the tragedy
According to the New York City Housing Preservation and Development, there are at least six open building code violations. Two violations reported in August 2017 were for a broken smoke detector and for a defective carbon monoxide detector in the same apartment on the first floor. It was not clear if the detector had been fixed or replaced or whether it had played any role in the fire.

A terrified grandmother frantically called her daughter saying she was going to die in the deadly Bronx apartment fire as she cradled her eight-month-old granddaughter and tried to hide from the flames while lying in a bathtub. 

Maria Batiz , 56, was one of the 12 people killed in New York's deadliest blaze in 25 years, which was started by a three-year-old boy playing with a stove in his apartment.  
The girls' mother, 37-year-old Karen Francis (above) also died in the historic blaze on Thursday night

Batiz, who lived on the third-floor in a studio, called her 26-year-old daughter Christine as the flames rapidly engulfed the building from the first-floor and said, 'We're going to die in here!', the New York Daily News reported.  

Batiz's brother, Fernando, recalled his last conversation between his frantic sister and Christine. 

'My niece was telling her, "Get out! What are you doing?" Fernando Batiz told the Daily News. 'I guess (Maria) was hysterical, and she got trapped. She was scared. She said, "We're going to die in here!" She was frantic. I guess the smoke overcame her.' 

Two-year-old Kylie Francis, seven-year-old Kelesha Francis, 37-year-old Karen Francis and 19-year-old Shawntay Young are also among the 12 victims who died in the fire that was started accidentally by the little boy, who had a history of playing with the stove.

The boy's mother was not in the same room as him when the fire started but was alerted to it by his screams and she quickly grabbed him and another two-year-old child, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department Daniel Nigro said. While fleeing, she left the door open to the first-floor apartment, which caused the fire to then immediately spread up the stairs to the fifth floor in the building. 
According to the New York City Housing Preservation and Development, there building owned by owned by D&A Equities had at least six open building code violations. Pictured above officials inspect the burned out building
Nigro said, 'the stairway acted like a chimney.' 

'It took the fire so quickly upstairs that people had very little time to react. They couldn't get back down the stairs. Of those that tried, a few perished. Others were helped out onto the fire escapes, taken down by our members,' he added. 
Of the 12 who perished, Nigro said seven women and five men are among the dead. He also said that in those numbers, five of the victims are children. 
'This tragedy is, without question, historic in its magnitude,' Nigro said. 'Our hearts go out to every family who lost a loved one here and everyone fighting for their lives.'   
Officials have not released the names of the victims who died in the historic blaze, but victims' relatives are coming forward.   
If unfortunately you do have a fire in your apartment, you must close the door when you exit. 
Daniel Nigro, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department
Christine has created a GoFundMe to raise money for funeral costs for her mother and her daughter.  
Another distraught relative, Elain Williams, identified four of her family members who all tragically perished in the blaze.
She told the New York Post that her two nieces Kylie Francis, aged two, and Kelesha Francis, aged seven, died, along with their 37-year-old mother, Karen Francis, who is her sister. She said she also lost her 19-year-old daughter Shawntay Young. 
Williams said that she lived in a basement apartment at 2363 Prospect Avenue. She was heading home from work when she got a phone call saying the building was on fire and she rushed to the scene.
'I was calling my daughter to see where she is — accidentally she [was] upstairs at her aunt's. She got caught in the fire too,' Williams told the Post. 
She explained that when she went to Jacobi Medical Center, she found out the four family members were all dead. 
'I feel so empty… so lost,' she said. 'Standing right here my soul is gone. Four [victims], one family? Come on now — I don't wish that on my worst enemy.'
Williams said that her brother-in-law, Francis Holt, is recovering in a hospital from his injuries.   
Police also say an unidentified boy died in the blaze along with two other women aged 19 and 63. 

According to the New York City Housing Preservation and Development, the building owned by D&A Equities had at least six open building code violations.

According to the New York City Housing Preservation and Development, the building owned by D&A Equities had at least six open building code violations.

SOLDIER, 28, STILL MISSING AFTER FIRE 

Missing: Emmanuel Mensah, 28
Missing: Emmanuel Mensah, 28
US Army soldier Emmanuel Mensah, 28, is missing in the wake of the Bronx fire and his family fear for his safety.
The serviceman, who lived in the building, was home on leave for the holidays and was last seen by his roommate.
'He was telling the roommate to not come out of the apartment because there was smoke,' his father told the New York Daily News.
But when they rescued everyone from the windows, we couldn't find him.
'I went to four hospitals, I can't find him.' 
Two violations reported in August 2017 were for a broken smoke detector and for a defective carbon monoxide detector in the same apartment on the first floor. It was not clear if the detector had been fixed or replaced or whether it had played any role in the fire. 
Howard Alkoff's D & E Equities purchased the five-story building that was built in 1916 from the city in 1984 for $31,029. 
There is no indication that any construction work has been done at the building since, The Real Deal reported. The residential apartment building did not have an elevator and fire escapes were visible on the facade of the building. 
'We are shocked and saddened at the loss of life and injuries which occurred,' Ronn Torossian, a spokesperson for the landlord said. 
'Our prayers and thoughts are with the families that were affected.
'The landlord is communicating with the City of New York and associated agencies.' 
It took an estimated 170 firefighters working in just 15 degrees to rescue people from the building as water sprayed from hoses froze into ice on the street. 
De Blasio confirmed that four of the 15 injured are in critical condition and fighting for their lives at a local hospital. 
'This is the worst fire tragedy we have seen in this city in at least a quarter century,' de Blasio said, adding that the fire will rank as one of the 'worst losses of life to a fire' in many years for the city.   
The mayor said at least 12 people were rescued and will survive thanks to the FDNY's quick response to the scene. 
'But the search of the building continues,' the mayor said, adding that 'we may lose others as well' in this 'unspeakable tragedy'. 
Photographs and video of the building located at 2363 Prospect Avenue in the Belmont section, showed the fire that occurred just one block from the Bronx Zoo. The blaze appeared to be under control by the time the mayor spoke at 10pm. 

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