Bronx fire death toll drops to 17

By Chris Sommerfeldt and Janon Fisher

NEW YORK — New York Mayor Eric Adams said Monday that the death toll from this weekend’s apartment building fire in the Bronx has dropped to 17 fatalities — eight children and nine adults — from 19 originally thought to have died.

The city Medical Examiner modified the count Monday afternoon, the mayor said.

“This is really an evolving crisis,” Adams said. “As it evolves and we get new information we’re going to share the information. This is an unspeakable tragedy. We’re going to remain vigilant to address this horrific tragedy.”

Several victims remain hospitalized in critical condition.

“We pray to God they are able to pull through,” Adams told CNN.

It was not immediately clear how many victims were in critical condition Monday. FDNY officials said Sunday that medics rushed 32 people with life-threatening injuries and three with serious injuries to five local hospitals.

The five-alarm fire erupted in a 19-story apartment tower in Fordham Heights around 11 a.m. Sunday after a space heater malfunctioned in the bedroom of a second-floor apartment, according to FDNY officials.

The fire, which ranks as the deadliest in the city since the 1990 blaze at the Bronx’s Happy Land social club, quickly tore through the building and caused thick black smoke to fill up hallways and apartment units.

Adams said FDNY investigators are looking into the possibility that some of the building’s self-closing doors weren’t operating properly, allowing the smoke to travel at a rapid clip and trapping victims in their homes.

By law, apartment buildings in the city must have self-closing hallway doors.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at a Sunday news conference that the devastated Bronx building may not have been up to fire code in certain respects, though he acknowledged it was built in the 1970s, when such laws were different.

Investigators are also scrutinizing reports that the building had malfunctioning fire alarms that would go off regularly for no reason, making residents ill-prepared for Sunday’s tragedy.

“This is a wake-up call for all of our buildings,” Adams said.

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