Twenty-three people were injured, four of them critically, when fire swept through a four-story Bronx apartment building early this morning. More than 200 firefighters battled the seven-alarm fire at 1547 Commonwealth Ave which began in a first-floor furniture store around 5:30 a.m. this morning. Seven children were among the injured all of whom were taken to Jacobi Medical Center for treatment.
— FDNY (@FDNY) January 2, 2018
Firefighters rescued several residents, some of whom were unable to access fire escapes. They battled the blaze for eight and a half hours as the frigid outdoor temperatures turned the water to ice on the pavement and power lines. By the time the fire was brought under control, the building was gutted, a portion of the second floor had collapsed onto the first.
FDNY Assistant Chief Roger Sakowich told the New York Daily News that furniture from the first-floor store acted as fuel for the fire and speculated that burning mattresses may have been the reason there was so much thick, black smoke. Smoke inhalation can cause a variety of injuries including inhalation buns and airway obstruction.
City records show the building has 14 complaints for construction that was performed with permits and five open violations, according to the Daily News. Regina Moore, a building resident, told the paper, “There’s a bunch of walls in there that aren’t supposed to be there.”
Makeshift walls in New York apartments have long posed a danger to tenants and firefighters. In 2005, two firefighters were killed when they became trapped in a maze of such illegal walls. It is unclear if the walls Moore referenced impeded residents’ safe exits from the building and/or firefighters ability to access the building units. Fire officials are investigating the cause of the massive blaze which comes less than a week after another apartment fire -the city’s deadliest in 25 years, engulfed a building less than two miles killing 12 people.