NSNEWS ONLINE DESK: The city’s worst blaze in more than a quarter century killed at least 12 people — including a year-old baby — inside a Bronx apartment building on Thursday night, authorities said.
Authorities feared the death toll could still rise from the four-alarm fire at 2363 Prospect Ave. that began at 6:51 p.m. in the Belmont section of the borough, officials said.
This stands to be the most deadly New York City fire since 87 people perished at the infamous Happy Land arson attack — which happened less than a mile away from Thursday night’s blaze.
The deadly blaze at 2363 Prospect Ave. in the Belmont section of the borough began at about 7 p.m., according to fire officials.
“We’re here at the scene of an unspeakable tragedy in the middle of the holiday season, a time when families are together,” Mayor de Blasio said at the scene, where bone-chilling temperatures dipped into the teens.
“Tonight here in the Bronx there are families that have been torn apart. This is the worst fire tragedy we have seen in this city in at least a quarter century.”
About 170 firefighters put out the fire that injured at least 17 people at the five-story building that’s one block from the Bronx Zoo, authorities said.
The youngest victim was a one-year-old, officials said.
“Based on the information now, I’m very sorry to report 12 New Yorker’s are dead, including one child as young as one-year-old,” de Blasio said.
“There are four people critically injured who are fighting for their lives. Other serious injuries as well. Thank god because of FDNY’s quick response, based on the information we have now .. at least 12 people were rescued and will survive.”
Investigators with the ATF’s Arson & Explosion unit, the FDNY and NYPD combed through the gutted building late into the night.
“We’re shocked by this loss,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
“The fire started on the first floor, quickly spread upstairs into this … five-story building with 25 apartments. People died on various floors of the apartment. We won’t tell you anything more about it other than they range in ages from 1 to over 50.”
The city’s top firefighter said Thursday night’s blaze is “without question, historic in its magnitude.”
“Our hearts go out to every family that lost a loved one here and everyone that’s fighting for their lives,” Nigro said.
De Blasio urged New Yorker’s to pray for the families who lost loved ones in this Christmas week tragedy.
“This evening hold your families close and keep these families here in the Bronx in your prayers,” he said.