NEW YORK — A small child playing with a stove ignited the raging Bronx fire that killed a dozen people, including four kids under the age of 7, inside a Bronx apartment building.
The details about the fire’s origin came from the mayor’s office Friday, just prior to a news conference about the deadliest fire tragedy to strike the city in more than 25 years.
A 2-year-old and a 1-year-old infant girl found in the arms of a woman seeking refuge in a bathtub were among the dead in the Thursday night blaze on Prospect Ave. near E. 187th St. in Belmont.
“What we think at this point is that it unfortunately emanated from an accident, a young child playing with a stove on the first floor of the building,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on his weekly radio show.
“It does not appear that there was anything problematic about the building or the fire safety in the building. It seems like a horrible, tragic accident.”
The mayor had earlier warned that the death toll could climb, with several victims listed in critical condition.
The fire spread from the first floor to additional landings in the five-story building in seconds, officials said.
As firefighters fought back the blaze, they found a 1-year-old baby girl dead next to a 63-year-old woman. Three unidentified men were also found dead in the building, officials said.
The 2-year-old girl pulled from the building died at St. Barnabas Hospital, along with a 7-year-old girl, a 19-year-old woman, a 37-year-old woman and an unidentified woman, officials said.
An unidentified man and child taken out of the fire died at Jacobi Medical Center, authorities said.
None of the names of the victims authorities have identified were immediately released.
Mothers and their children could be seen frantically scrambling down building fire escapes after the fire broke out about 7 p.m. Thursday.
Many of the victims had just shorts and shirts on as they raced outside, bracing themselves against the frigid 12-degree temperatures.
The century-old building was just given a permit for a rehabilitation project, according to city records.
There were also reports that the first floor had no working smoke detectors as recently as a month ago.