A soldier who was home for the holidays died in the fatal Bronx fire on Thursday after he rushed in and out of the apartment building helping to save lives..
On the ground floor, a 3-year-old boy who Nigro said "had a history of playing with the burners and turning them on" was toying with the stove in his family's kitchen.
December was the worst month of fire in New York City in a decade, Nigro said. When the child's mother noticed the fire, she grabbed him and another child and left the building, leaving the door open, FDNY officials said.
"The stairway acted like a chimney", Nigro said at the Friday news conference.
His grieving father spoke to the NYPost and said that helping people was "in his nature".
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The victims, he said, died from burns and smoke inhalation, a lot of them fairly quickly. "Those that tried, a few of them perished".
One family lost four members: Karen Stewart-Francis; her daughters, 2-year-old Kiley Francis; and 7-year-old Kelly Francis, and their cousin, 19-year-old Shawntay Young, relatives said.
"Then we got changed and went through the fire escape", Crisbel said. Five people died at the scene, and seven others were pronounced dead at local hospitals.
More than 170 New York City firefighters reportedly responded to the scene of the fire. "It took the fire so quickly upstairs that people had very little time to react".
New York City is going through a bitter cold snap with temperatures in the low-teens Fahrenheit (minus teens Celsius) and high winds.
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They are from the same family.
"Our prayers and thoughts are with the families that were affected", he said. Fire Department video released Friday showed the building's charred halls and stairs, where icicles had formed from water poured on the blaze. Shards of glass and chunks of ice littered the sidewalk outside. There are 25 units in the apartment building.
The child and his mother escaped their burning first-floor apartment.
Batiz wrote on a Go Fund Me page that her mother, Maria Batiz, 57, called her at work to tell her that a fire had broken out in the building and she and the baby were trapped. "Based on the research we have at this moment, it does not appear there was anything problematic about the building or the fire safety in the building".
The blaze broke out on Thursday evening in a 25-apartment building near the Bronx Zoo, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States financial capital.
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It was the deadliest fire in the city since an arsonist torched a Bronx nightclub in 1990, killing 87 people inside the venue that did not have fire exits, alarms or sprinklers, the New York Times reported. Another 10 people were killed at a Bronx fire in 2007, nine of them children.