New York City’s deadliest residential fire in decades was accidentally lit by a 3 ½-year-old boy playing with the burners on his mother’s stove, officials said Friday.
The flames spread quickly through the kitchen, then roared through a door the boy’s mother had left open as she fled her first-floor apartment with the boy and her other child, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. A stairwell acted like a chimney, carrying the flames through the entire building within minutes and blocking the main escape route.
Twelve people died, including several children.
“We were told the boy had a history of playing with the burners and turning them on, and before the mother knew it, this fire had gotten a good hold of the kitchen,” Nigro said.
Excluding the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, it was the deadliest fire in the city since 87 people were killed during a social-club fire in the same Bronx neighborhood in 1990.
The blaze broke out on the first floor of a five-story building just before 7 p.m. and quickly tore through the century-old structure near the Bronx Zoo.
The fire commissioner reminded all New Yorkers of his department’s frequent messages emphasizing the crucial step residents must take in the event of a fire.
“Close the door, close the door, close the door,” Nigro said.
The fire commissioner said he’s unsure whether all the smoke detectors were working in the building.e century-old structure near the Bronx Zoo.