New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Monday he is worried the death toll may rise after a devastating apartment fire Sunday in the Bronx killed 19 people, including nine children.
“We believe, unfortunately, it may,” the Democratic mayor told CNN, saying there are a number of residents in critical condition. “We pray to God they are able to pull through.”
The White House said President Biden called Mr. Adams on Monday “to express his heartfelt condolences and offer support” following the fire.
The city’s fire commissioner said a malfunctioning electric space heater in a bedroom was the source of the fire — one of the worst in the city’s recent history.
“I think every parent right now is holding their babies, their children, a little closer,” Mr. Adams said.
He said fire marshals are investigating whether there were safety lapses in the building, starting with whether self-closing doors in the building malfunctioned and allowed smoke to spread swiftly through the building.
“We have a law here in New York City that requires doors to close automatically,” Mr. Adams said.
He also said investigators are looking into reports the building’s smoke alarms went off frequently, making residents less likely to be worried in a real emergency.
“This is a wake-up call for all of our buildings,” the mayor said.