A major Bronx fire incident in an apartment building in New York City has devastated several homes, as 19 people are reported dead, including 9 children. The heartbreaking news came early on Sunday, as those injured and hurt were still either being rescued or sent for medical care.

According to the commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, a total of 63 people were injured, with at least 32 of them with life-threatening injuries. It was also confirmed that the Bronx fire was caused by a “malfunctioning electric space heater”, which was within one of the rooms in the apartment. It started small but consumed the entire room, reaching other parts of the apartment very quickly, when the door of the house on fire was left open during the incident.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in his statement, “This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York, and the impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of just pain and despair in our city.” adding later, “This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times here in the city of New York.” 

The apartment was a 19-story building located at 333 East 181st Street, a 50 years old building with 120 units inside. According to the law enforcement officers at the scene, the Bronx fire began around 11 a.m. on the 2nd and 3rd-floor duplex apartments in the building. There was “very heavy smoke, very heavy fire” when the firefighters arrived at the scene. 200 workers of the fire department were at the rescue on Sunday.

Many of the firefighters reported the horrific scenario at the location of the fire, with people either dead or struggling found on almost all stairs of the building. The majority of the lives lost in the Bronx fire are reportedly due to smoke inhalation, many of the victims dying due to cardiac arrest.

Reports state people could not “escape because of the volume of smoke”, even among those who tried to leave or run out. People were being rescued tirelessly even when the firefighters ran out of the air tank.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul wrote her statement of shock and condolence on Twitter saying, “I am horrified by the devastating fire in the Bronx today. My heart is with the loved ones of all those we’ve tragically lost, all of those impacted and with our heroic FDNY firefighters. The entire State of New York stands with New York City.”