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Bronx Fire Deadliest in Over 25 Years, Says Mayor

NEW YORK, Dec 29 2017 (IPS) - A major fire, fueled by strong winds on a frigid night, killed at least 12 people in a Bronx building, inhabited mostly with migrants from West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro described the fire as “historic,” since it was one of the deadliest fires in the city in more than a quarter century.

Addressing reporters, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that besides the 12 deaths, four were critically injured and two people suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Amongst the dead was a one year old child.

“Tonight in the Bronx we’ve seen the worst fire tragedy in at least a quarter of a century,’’ the mayor said. “It is unspeakable, and families have been torn apart.”

The building, constructed of plaster and brick and built in 1916, was not fireproof, according to property records. The blaze was raised to a five-alarm status, involving more than 160 fire fighters.

Commissioner Nigro said that City records indicated the building had six open violations, including one for a defective smoke detector on the first floor, where the fire began.

While the American Red Cross responded with blankets, the nearby Grace H. Dodge vocational high school was turned into a reception center for people who needed housing and other services.

The last deadly fire took place at the Happy Land social club in New York city which killed 87 people back in 1990. An arsonist, Julio Gonzalez, used $1 worth of gasoline to set fire to the club, after a bouncer booted him following a spat with an ex-girlfriend. He died in prison on Sept. 13, 2016.

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