Fire officials say New York City's deadliest fire in a quarter-century was caused by a 3-year-old boy playing with the burners on a kitchen stove. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro says the boy, who had a history of playing with the stove, screamed to alert his mom to the fire around 7pm Thursday, reports CNN. The family fled the 25-unit apartment building in the Bronx and left their first-floor door open, causing flames to quickly spread into the century-old building's stairwell, which acted "like a chimney," Nigro says. Though the building was cited for defective smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in August, per the Los Angeles Times, "it does not appear that there was anything problematic about the building," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on his weekly radio show Friday, per the New York Daily News. "It seems like a horrible, tragic accident."
Twelve people, including four children, died as a result of the blaze. Three men, a 63-year-old woman, and a female infant she was found cradling in a bathtub, died inside the building. A 2-year-old girl also found in the bathtub died in an area hospital, along with a 7-year-old girl and a boy of unknown age, per NBC News. Three women and a man were also pronounced dead at hospitals. The death toll, which includes people on numerous floors, could rise as four civilians are in critical condition. Seven civilians and seven firefighters were hurt overall. "There was a lot of people coming out in stretchers, burned," one witness tells NBC, describing the fire as "really bad." Investigators are reportedly checking to see if a natural gas line contributed to its spread. Records indicate the line was shut down because of a leak in May. A permit to re-pipe the gas distribution system was granted in August.
Broken windows are seen Friday on the back of the building that erupted in flames Thursday in the Bronx. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
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