Fire in Bronx kills at least 12

Fire in Bronx kills at least 12

At least 12 people were killed when a fire fueled by gusty winds tore through a century-old apartment building in the Bronx on a frigid Thursday night, New York City officials said.

It was the deadliest fire in New York City in more than a quarter-century.

In addition to the deaths, four people were critically injured and two people suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference late on Thursday.

The youngest among the dead was a one-year-old, the oldest over 50.

"Tonight (Thursday) in the Bronx we've seen the worst fire tragedy in at least a quarter of a century," the mayor said on Twitter late Thursday.

The first emergency call came at 6.51 pm for a fire in a five-story apartment building, a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said.

The department responded in three minutes, the mayor said, and firefighters were able to rescue 12 people.

The fire began on the first floor but quickly spread throughout the building, as the wind fed oxygen to the flames.

The blaze grew to five-alarm status, and more than 160 firefighters responded. By the time de Blasio spoke, around 10 pm, the flames had been brought under control.

The cause of the fire was not yet clear.

It was a bitterly cold night, with temperatures in the teens, and the wind chill made it feel below zero.

Water leaking from fire hoses froze in streaks on the concrete, and displaced residents walked around draped in American Red Cross blankets.

Three young girls were whisked into a neighbouring building after climbing down a fire escape with no shoes or coats.

The building, constructed of plaster and brick, was built in 1916 and had more than 20 units, according to property records.

City records appeared to indicate that as of Thursday, the building had six open violations, including one for a defective smoke detector on the first floor.

That was the floor where the fire began, Nigro said.

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