The Root sends condolences to the victims of Sunday’s horrific fire in the Bronx in which 19 people, including nine children, lost their lives.
According to the New York Times, the fire was caused by a malfunctioning space heater inside an apartment on the third floor of the 19-story Twin Parks North West high rise. Tragically, officials believe many of the victims perished from inhaling superheated, toxic smoke while trying to escape the blaze, without knowing that the fire itself hadn’t spread beyond the new
Unlike many deadly fires which begin at night when victims are sleeping and thus unaware of the danger, Sunday’s fire reportedly started around 11 am while many were awake. Survivors explained to The Times how their harrowing escapes unfolded.
Wesley Patterson, 28, a resident for more than 20 years, shuffled into his bathroom to wash up at around 11 a.m. when his girlfriend knocked on the door. She said she’d just looked out the window and had seen flames coming out of the apartment next door.
Thick black smoke began to flood their apartment. Within seconds, Mr. Patterson could barely see his girlfriend or her brother — and they were on the other side of the room.
“We were just trying to breathe,” he said. He rushed them to a back window and the promise of fresh air and some relief. That window was very hot to the touch, burning his hands, but he fought it open. The move backfired: Smoke began flooding into the apartment. He slammed the window back down.
Frantic scenes like this were playing out in apartments throughout the 19-story building, as parents and children sought escape from homes that were suddenly black and airless.
New York Mayor Eric Adams told the Times that the building was home to a large number of immigrants from Gambia, a West African nation of 2.4 million people. The fire is being called the worst in New York City since 87 people died inside the Happy Land Social Club, also in the Bronx, which was torched on purpose after an argument in 1990.