Nine children and 10 adults are dead after a five-alarm fire in a residential high-rise building in the Bronx on Sunday, New York officials said Sunday. 

The fire appears to have been started by a portable space heater, New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. He added that the door to the apartment was left open, allowing smoke to spread.

Thirty-two people were transported to area hospitals with life-threatening injuries, the majority of which were due to smoke inhalation, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference Sunday afternoon. It’s unclear if that number included some of the dead. In total, 63 people were injured, Adams said.

“This is a 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,” Adams said. “The numbers are horrific.”  

Adams said at another press conference later Sunday that many of the victims appeared to be immigrants from Gambia. He stressed that no one would be asked about immigration status if they needed help or had information for police. 

“Our message is clear today – during the tragedy, we are going to be here for each other,” Adams said. 

New York City Emergency Management said the Red Cross has set up a center at a local school. 

More than 200 New York City firefighters responded to the five-alarm fire in a residential building in the Bronx on Sunday, the FDNY said earlier.

The department said dispatchers received a call of a fire shortly before 11 a.m. on the third floor of a 19-floor high rise, and they also received calls of fire from residents on the upper floors. Nigro said the fire started in a duplex apartment between the second and third floors. He said the FDNY found victims in every floor in stairways. 

Nigro said a fire like this one is “unprecedented” in New York City.


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