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A New York City woman lost her sister, two nieces and a nephew in the Bronx apartment block fire that killed 17, with stricken families also sharing photos of their missing loved ones in the hopes of tracking them down. 

Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, was killed in the fire, her grieving sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, as well as her three children: daughters Fatoumala, 21, and Aisha, 19, as well as son Mohammed, 12. 

‘They’re such a nice people, they’re so lovely,’ said Koumba Drammeh of her sister, nieces and nephews. ‘We’re gonna miss them a lot.’    

A husband and wife were also named as victims of the blaze.

The deaths of Hagi Jawara, 41, and his wife Isatou Jabbie, 31, were confirmed Monday evening by Hagi’s brother, Yusupha Jawara.

Other family members and friends have shared photos of their loved ones online, in a desperate bid to track them down after Sunday’s blaze at the Twin Parks North West Complex in the New York borough, which was triggered by a space heater.  

Fatoumata Drammeh (pictured), 50, was killed in the fire, her sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, who said that she and her family were 'such lovely people'

Fatoumata Drammeh (pictured), 50, was killed in the fire, her sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, who said that she and her family were 'such lovely people'

Fatoumata Drammeh's daughter Fatoumala, 21, was also killed in the fire, Fatoumala's aunt Koumba Drammeh told DailyMail.com

Fatoumata Drammeh's daughter Fatoumala, 21, was also killed in the fire, Fatoumala's aunt Koumba Drammeh told DailyMail.com

Fatoumata Drammeh (pictured), 50, was killed in the fire, her sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, who said that she and her family were ‘such lovely people’

Fatoumata's 12-year-old son Muhammad was the youngest member of the family to lose his life in the Bronx apartment building fire

Fatoumata's 12-year-old son Muhammad was the youngest member of the family to lose his life in the Bronx apartment building fire

Aisha Drammeh, 19, is one of the several people still missing after the Bronx apartment fire that has already claimed the lives of 17 people

Aisha Drammeh, 19, is one of the several people still missing after the Bronx apartment fire that has already claimed the lives of 17 people

Fatoumata’s 12-year-old son Muhammad was the youngest member of the family to lose his life in the Bronx apartment building fire

Friends posted photos on Instagram stories asking for the whereabouts of the Drammeh family - mother Fatou and her daughter, Aisha and son, Muhammad - who have been missing since the fire

Friends posted photos on Instagram stories asking for the whereabouts of the Drammeh family - mother Fatou and her daughter, Aisha and son, Muhammad - who have been missing since the fire

Friends posted photos on Instagram stories asking for the whereabouts of the Drammeh family – mother Fatou and her daughter, Aisha and son, Muhammad – who have been missing since the fire

Hagi Jawara, 41, the wife of Jabbie, has been confirmed dead Monday by Hagi's brother, Yusupha

Hagi Jawara, 41, the wife of Jabbie, has been confirmed dead Monday by Hagi's brother, Yusupha

Isatou Jabbie, a relative of Yusupha Jawara, in an undated photo. Jawara says she and her husband have died after the deadly Bronx fire on Sunday

Isatou Jabbie, a relative of Yusupha Jawara, in an undated photo. Jawara says she and her husband have died after the deadly Bronx fire on Sunday

Isatou Jabbie, 31, and husband Hagi Jawara, 41, were confirmed dead Monday after the Bronx apartment building fire by Jawara’s brother Yusupha

Also still unaccounted for are Dorel Anderson and Ramel Thompson. 

NBC New York reported that a police official had named the children killed in the blaze as Fatoumata Dukureh, aged 5, Mariam Dukureh, aged 11, five year-old Hawa Mahamdou, Mustapha Dukyhreh, who was 11, Omar Jambay, six, and Toure Seydou, who was 12.   

Family members and neighbors are continuing to desperately search for any evidence of their missing relatives and friends in the wake of the apartment fire that was set after a faulty space heater set it alight and tore through the Bronx block killing eight children and nine adults. 

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were both in the apartment building during the fire and are still missing.

Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson at the time of the fire. 

Meanwhile, the Drammeh family includes mother Fatou and her daughter, Aisha and son, Muhammad.  

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were both in the apartment building during the fire and are still missing. Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson at the time of the fire

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were both in the apartment building during the fire and are still missing. Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson at the time of the fire

Dorel Anderson and her boyfriend Ramel Thompson were both in the apartment building during the fire and are still missing. Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was visiting Thompson at the time of the fire

Fire experts said the design of a nearly 50-year-old Bronx building and its older fire safety features likely contributed to the a blaze caused by a faulty space heater turning the complex into a smoke-filled chimney on Sunday morning

The list of the missing was announced as an immigrant father has revealed he leaped through flames to save his eight children. 

The death toll, originally reported as 19, was revised downwards to 17 on Monday. Addressing the reduced death toll, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said patients had been taken to seven different hospitals in the city, which led to ‘a bit of a double count’. 

Fire experts, attributing smoke to the fatalities, believe a self-closing door in the Twin Parks North West complex may have malfunctioned, allowing the smoke to spread through the building.

‘The fire was contained to the hallway just outside this two-story apartment, but the smoke travelled throughout the building and the smoke is what caused the deaths and the serious injuries,’ Nigro said during a press conference Monday. 

Exclusive photographs taken by DailyMail.com reveal what remains of the family unit after the fire engulfed their duplex apartment at 333 East 181st Street, at 11am on Sunday.     

Mamadou Wague, who lived in Unit 3N with his wife and children, recalled how he was woken by his children screaming ‘fire’ and then found his eight-year-old daughter, Nafisha, screaming and trapped on a burning mattress in her bedroom.

‘I just grab her and run,’ the west African immigrant told the New York Times. ‘I didn’t think about anything except getting her out.’ 

Wague, 47, pulled his daughter from the burning bed, suffering burns to his lips and nose, and escaped the unit with his family. Nafisha sustained burns but is alive.

Fire Marshals ruled the fire ‘accidental,’ noting that it was caused by a malfunctioning space heater and that a ‘smoke alarm was present and operational’. 

A New York City official, who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity, revealed fire marshals suspect the space heater had been running uninterrupted for multiple days. According to a list of resident maintenance requests shared online, building received at least four complaints last year of units being without heat. It is unclear if Unit 3N was having an issue with heat. 

Officials believe the fire spread so rapidly because Mr Wague left his apartment door open as he fled for his life with his kids. 

Mayor Eric Adams said there may have been a ‘maintenance issue,’ as it was supposed to close automatically. He told CNN: ‘The doors in the building did have self-closing mechanisms. We are just looking at that specific door.’

However, Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association Union, said the 49-year-old building was poorly equipped to deal with a fire.  

‘It was at a building that was built under federal guidelines way back when, so it’s not up to New York City fire codes,’ he told the New York Daily News

It has no fire escapes and stairwells meant to be used as emergency exits quickly filled with smoke, along with floors where stairwell doors were left open.   

Large, new apartment buildings in the city are required to have sprinkler systems and interior doors that swing shut automatically to contain smoke and deprive fires of oxygen, however those rules don’t apply to older buildings.

Many residents ignored the fire alarms when they went off on Sunday because they sound so frequently as false alarms. 

‘First we heard the fire alarm go off. Numerous times,’ said Michael Joseph, 32, who lived on the sixth floor with his uncle. But we didn’t think nothing of it, because normally people in the building, they smoke and tend to set it off. So we thought it was probably just people playing.’  

The apartment complex was purchased for $24,675,000 in 2020 by a group of investors, including Camber Property Group. Rick Gropper, a co-founder and principal at Camber, was one of the nearly 800 individuals named last month to the new mayor’s transition team.    

Pope Francis offered his condolences Monday to the victims of the ‘devastating’ apartment fire. In a telegram sent to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan he offered ‘heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness’ to those affected by the blaze. 

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The Wague family's apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The Wague family's apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The Wague family’s apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The blaze is unit 3N was caused by a faulty space heater

The blaze is unit 3N was caused by a faulty space heater

The blaze is unit 3N was caused by a faulty space heater

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The building is home to many immigrants from west Africa, especially Gambia, and the Dominican Republic. It has a mix of private renters and those whose rent is being paid by the state. 
Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: ‘One of the kids said, ‘”Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”’

‘I get up and there’s smoke in the kids’ rooms.’

Smoke had filled the now ash-covered unit. 

‘It was dark,’ his son, Hame Wague, 16, told the newspaper. ‘We were all coughing.’

Although his entire family survived the blaze, the tragedy left Wague stricken with grief.

‘I don’t want anybody life — I don’t want to hear anybody dead in this fire, that’s what I worry about,’ he told ABC 7 shortly after his rescue.    

Mayor Adams, speaking Monday, vowed to ‘double down’ on encouraging residents to close doors in the event of a fire. However, he reiterated that city leaders do not place blame on the Wague family for the catastrophe. 

‘What we don’t want to do is just to add more trauma on a family that was simply trying to escape, a very dangerous and a very frightening experience,’ the mayor said during a press briefing. 

The five-alarm blaze is New York City’s deadliest in three decades. President Joe Biden, speaking with Mayor Adams Monday, offered his ‘heartfelt condolences and support’ to the victims, city leaders and residents. Biden told the mayor any resources the city needs will be made available.

Although the flames only damaged a small portion of the building, smoke escaped through the Wague family’s open door and flooded the stairwells – the only method of escape as the building was too tall for fire escapes – with ash.  

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had 'no heat'

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had 'no heat'

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had ‘no heat’

Some people could not escape because of the volume of smoke, while others became incapacitated as they tried to flee. Several residents said the fire alarms in the building are always going off so they ignored them.

While there have not been any major building violations or complaints listed against the building, according to city building records, however it was reportedly not up to code.

Public records show the building has open violations for cockroach and mouse infestations, lead paint and water leaks, however no structural violations were listed. 

The New York Post reported there were more than two dozen violations and complaints at the building since 2013 – despite $25 million in state loans for repairs. 

The Twin Parks North West complex is classified as a D1 building, according to Street Easy. The classification designates the complex as an elevator apartment building that is semi-fireproof and without stores. 

D1 buildings can be found in all five boroughs of New York City and account for about 29 percent of complexes in the Bronx, Property Shark reported. 

Fire experts said the design of a nearly 50-year-old Bronx building and its older fire safety features likely contributed to the a blaze caused by a faulty space heater turning the complex into a smoke-filled chimney on Sunday morning

Fire experts said the design of a nearly 50-year-old Bronx building and its older fire safety features likely contributed to the a blaze caused by a faulty space heater turning the complex into a smoke-filled chimney on Sunday morning

The inferno, caused by a faulty space heater, started in Unit 3N, where the Wague family lived. Investigators are still trying to determine how the blaze spread, however NYC Mayor Eric Adams said it appears the smoke spread due to a door that was supposed to automatically close being open

Mamadou Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: 'One of the kids said, ‘"Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”'

Mamadou Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: 'One of the kids said, ‘"Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”'

Mamadou Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: ‘One of the kids said, ‘”Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”’

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City’s worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that 'very heavy' fire and smoke 'extended the entire height of the building'

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that 'very heavy' fire and smoke 'extended the entire height of the building'

Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that ‘very heavy’ fire and smoke ‘extended the entire height of the building’ and confirmed that a space heater caused the blaze. Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the items that caught on fire in apartment 3N

Some of the items that caught on fire in apartment 3N

Some of the items that caught on fire in apartment 3N

Investigators determined a malfunctioning electric space heater started the fire in the 19-story building, leaving victims on ‘every floor.’ 

Eight children were among at least 17 people killed and 63 injured in Sunday’s inferno. Dozens of residents were hospitalized, several in critical condition, and doctors were continuing efforts to save victims live on Monday.

The mayor said it’s likely the death toll could rise.

‘We pray to God that they’ll be able to pull through,’ Mayor Adams said during a CNN interview Monday morning.

At least 200 firefighters responded to the scene, some arriving within minutes of the initial call for help. As they entered the building, the first responders were met with flames in the hallway. 

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said an investigation was underway to determine how the fire spread and whether anything could have been done to prevent or contain the blaze. 

Adams said it appears the smoke spread due to a door that was supposed to automatically close being open.

‘There may have been a maintenance issue with this door. And that is going to be part of the .. ongoing investigation,’ Adams said on Good Morning America.  

The mayor said the fire crews continued rescue measures even after running out of oxygen.

‘Their oxygen tanks were empty and they still pushed through the smoke,’ he explained, noting that  icy conditions made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blaze.

Jay Jimenez, who lives in the building next door, said he went into the building to help rescue trapped residents. He said he helped ‘a lot’ of people make it to safety, but also recalled the horrifying moments he carried deceased victims out of the building.

‘I was just focused on the mission,’ Jimenez, 35, told DailyMail.com on Monday. He said he helped the fire department as they brought victims to the lobby: ‘I pulled them out, while they bring them through the stairs and out the front lobby and I just took them by the knees and brought them all the way outside.’ 

He added: ‘I couldn’t sleep last night – I haven’t slept. I feel sad. I got kids. I saw a three-year-old completely dead and that’s in my mind. I am not the same. It’s really sad.’  

Jimenez also applauded the ‘hero’ first responders who risked their lives to help the trapped residents.

Firemen stand at the scene of a fire at a multi-level apartment building in the Bronx on Monday

Firemen stand at the scene of a fire at a multi-level apartment building in the Bronx on Monday

Firemen stand at the scene of a fire at a multi-level apartment building in the Bronx on Monday

Workers clean up at the scene of a fire at a multi-level apartment building in the Bronx on Monday

Workers clean up at the scene of a fire at a multi-level apartment building in the Bronx on Monday

Workers clean up at the scene of a fire at a multi-level apartment building in the Bronx on Monday

Some of the items that caught fire at 333 East 181st Street in the Fordham Heights area of the Bronx

Some of the items that caught fire at 333 East 181st Street in the Fordham Heights area of the Bronx

Some of the items that caught fire at 333 East 181st Street in the Fordham Heights area of the Bronx

Firefighters respond to a five-alarm blaze that broke out in the Bronx on Sunday

Clean-up and recovery workers are seen Monday cleaning in front of a Bronx apartment building a day after a fire swept through the complex

Clean-up and recovery workers are seen Monday cleaning in front of a Bronx apartment building a day after a fire swept through the complex

Clean-up and recovery workers are seen Monday cleaning in front of a Bronx apartment building a day after a fire swept through the complex

‘The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in this city,’ Mayor Adams said during a press conference early on Sunday, shortly after the blaze was extinguished. 

‘The numbers are horrific. We have over 32 people who are life-threatening at this time. This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed in the City of New York in modern times.’ 

Sunday’s blaze came just days after a Philadelphia house fire killed 12 people, including eight children.

That was the deadliest fire at a U.S. residential apartment building since 2017, when 13 people died in an apartment in the Bronx, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.

That fire started after a three-year-old boy was playing with stove burners.

The deadliest fire prior to that was in 1989 when a Tennessee apartment building fire claimed the lives of 16 people. 

NEW YORK CITY’S DEADLIEST FIRE DISASTERS  

At least 17 people died on Sunday when a five-alarm fire erupted in a 19-story building in the Bronx.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and Mayor Eric Adams described the fire as ‘NYC’s worst in 30 decades. ‘The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in this city,’ Adams said. 

We’re taking a look at some of the worst fire disasters in the recent history of the Big Apple. 

March 25, 1990/West Farms, The Bronx – Eighty-seven people died trapped in the Happy Land social club after an unemployed refugee, whose girlfriend worked at the club, set the base of the staircase – the only point of access to the club – on fire with $1 worth of gasoline. 

Bodies are covered along the sidewalk in front of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx following a fire in the windowless-second floor room

Bodies are covered along the sidewalk in front of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx following a fire in the windowless-second floor room

Bodies are covered along the sidewalk in front of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx following a fire in the windowless-second floor room

The charred facade of the Happy Land social club in the Bronx section of New York City is pictured in 1990

The charred facade of the Happy Land social club in the Bronx section of New York City is pictured in 1990

The charred facade of the Happy Land social club in the Bronx section of New York City is pictured in 1990

December 28, 2017/ Belmont, The Bronx – A fire in the Belmont apartment of the Bronx killed 13 people and injured 14 others. At the time it became New York City’s deadliest fire in 25 years. It erupted when a 3-year-old played with the burners of the fire stove on the first floor of the building. As the mother desperately removed her children from the apartment, she accidentally left the door open, allowing the fire to spread.  

A fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel works on the scene of an apartment fire is in the Bronx borough of New York City is seen on December 29, 2017

A fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel works on the scene of an apartment fire is in the Bronx borough of New York City is seen on December 29, 2017

A fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel works on the scene of an apartment fire is in the Bronx borough of New York City is seen on December 29, 2017

March 7, 2007/Highbridge, The Bronx– The fire was started by a space heater’s electrical cord. it killed nine children and one adult. The building owner lost his five children. Another man lost his wife and four children. 

Fire department and police vehicles sit at the scene of a 3-alarm blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in an apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fire department and police vehicles sit at the scene of a 3-alarm blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in an apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fire department and police vehicles sit at the scene of a 3-alarm blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in an apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Charred wreckage sits piled at the scene of blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in a 4-story apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Charred wreckage sits piled at the scene of blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in a 4-story apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

Charred wreckage sits piled at the scene of blaze that claimed the lives of 9 people, including 8 children, in a 4-story apartment building Thursday, March 8, 2007

April 23, 2017/ Queens Village, Queens– The fire at 112-16 208th St in Queens Village killed five people, including four children. A person driving by spotted the flames and alerted police. The fire was raised to three alarms before being stopped. 

New York Fire Department personnel stand outside the scene of a deadly fire Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Queens Village in New York

New York Fire Department personnel stand outside the scene of a deadly fire Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Queens Village in New York

New York Fire Department personnel stand outside the scene of a deadly fire Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Queens Village in New York

October 4, 2015/Borough Park, Brooklyn – An intentional building explosion and fire in Brooklyn left two dead and eight injured after a tenant who was late on rent poured gasoline in the stairwell of the three-story building. 

View of 13th Avenue and damaged cars in front of burned out storefront

View of 13th Avenue and damaged cars in front of burned out storefront

View of 13th Avenue and damaged cars in front of burned out storefront

 

 

 

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How Bronx building turned into a smoke-choked chimney that killed 17: Self-closing doors failed, it didn’t have fire escapes and alarm system was so sensitive residents ignored it 

Fire experts said the design of a nearly 50-year-old Bronx building and its older fire safety features likely contributed to the blaze caused by a faulty space heater turning the complex into a smoke-filled chimney on Sunday morning. 

The inferno erupted in a third-floor duplex in the 19-floor Twin Parks North West building, which was built in 1973. 

Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association Union, said the ageing building was poorly equipped to deal with a fire.  

‘It was at a building that was built under federal guidelines way back when, so it’s not up to New York City fire codes,’ he told the New York Daily News.  

It has no fire escapes, as they weren’t a requirement when the building was constructed. At the time, the city had banned exterior fire escapes. However, as Sunday’s inferno burned the stairwells, which are meant to be used as emergency exits, quickly filled with smoke. 

Fire officials cited the system of ‘scissor stairs’ inside the complex as a design that makes it more difficult to feed a hose through in the building. 

Twin Parks North West is equipped with self-sealing fire doors, but it is unclear how many of them were open. Investigators said at least one, located on the 15th floor of the high-rise, was not shut, allowing smoke to spread.

Per city law, Unit 3N – where the fire originated – had a self-closing door, however, New York City Mayor Eric Adams confirmed Monday the door failed to completely shut, likely the result of a ‘maintenance issue’.

‘We’re looking to determine if there was some form of malfunctioning of the door,’ Adams told CNN Monday morning. 

‘We have a law here that requires doors to close automatically. We are looking at [that] through the investigation with the fire marshals, who will be extremely thorough with the investigation.’

Fire investigators tested most of the doors in the complex on Sunday and found a handful of other units had doors that did not close automatically, as designed, a fire official confirmed to the New York Times.  

The complex also has a sprinkler system, but only in its laundry and contractor room. Large, new apartment buildings in the city are required to have sprinkler systems and interior doors that swing shut automatically to contain smoke and deprive fires of oxygen, however those rules don’t apply to older buildings. 

Additionally, many residents ignored the fire alarms when they went off on Sunday because they sound so frequently as false alarms. 

‘First we heard the fire alarm go off. Numerous times,’ said Michael Joseph, 32, who lived on the sixth floor with his uncle. But we didn’t think nothing of it, because normally people in the building, they smoke and tend to set it off. So we thought it was probably just people playing.’   

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris

The family's apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The family's apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The family’s apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape

The blaze in unit 3N was caused by a faulty space heater, fire marshals determined Monday

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The entire unit was damaged by the blaze

The owners of the Bronx building insist smoke detectors were working on Sunday when the flames tore through the building, despite fire bosses claiming the building isn’t up to code, and include a member of the new mayor’s housing transition team.  

Eight children and nine adults died after the fire started at 333 E. 181st St. near Tiebout Ave in the Bronx shortly before 11am, tearing through a duplex apartment then spreading to other units in the affordable housing complex. 

It is believed to have been started by a space heater that was running uninterrupted for days inside 3N, an apartment where Mamadou Wague and his eight children lived. They all survived but another eight kids from inside the building, and nine adults, died. 

At a press conference on Monday, officials said the fire spread after the apartment’s entry door failed to automatically close, as it should have, when Wague and his family fled. 

‘The fire was contained to the hallway just outside this two-story apartment, but the smoke travelled throughout the building and the smoke is what caused the deaths and the serious injuries,’ Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro explained.

Mayor Adams, echoing Nigro’s claim, vowed to ‘double down’ on the instructing residents to close doors in the event of a fire. However, he reiterated that city leaders do not blame the family for the catastrophe.

‘What we don’t want to do is just to add more trauma on a family that was simply trying to escape, a very dangerous and a very frightening experience,’ Adams said.   

Although none of the victims’ identities have been confirmed by the coroner’s office, police sources told the New York Post the youngest victims include a four-year-old, two five-year-old girls, a six-year-old boy, a pair of 11-year-old girls and a 12-year-old boy. Several victims appear to be from the same families. 

Additionally, many residents remain missing including Dorel Anderson, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and her boyfriend, Ramel Thompson.

Thompson’s parents, who also live in the building and successfully escaped, claim the couple was in the apartment during the blaze but haven’t yet been found.

Anderson’s mother, Karen Benjamin, echoed the Thompson family’s concerns, telling the Post: ‘We were given no information. We can’t find her.’ 

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City's worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

New York City’s worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that 'very heavy' fire and smoke 'extended the entire height of the building'

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that 'very heavy' fire and smoke 'extended the entire height of the building'

Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that ‘very heavy’ fire and smoke ‘extended the entire height of the building’ and confirmed that a space heater caused the blaze. Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said a malfunction with a self-closing door allowed smoke from a Bronx apartment fire started by a faulty space heater to spread throughout the building, killing eight children and nine adults

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said a malfunction with a self-closing door allowed smoke from a Bronx apartment fire started by a faulty space heater to spread throughout the building, killing eight children and nine adults

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said a malfunction with a self-closing door allowed smoke from a Bronx apartment fire started by a faulty space heater to spread throughout the building, killing eight children and nine adults

The building is home to many immigrants from west Africa, especially Gambia, and the Dominican Republic. It has a mix of private renters and those whose rent is being paid by the state. 

Wague recalled how his kids alerted him to the blaze: ‘One of the kids said, ‘”Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”’ 

‘I get up and there’s smoke in the kids’ rooms.’  

He then found his eight-year-old daughter, Nafisha, screaming and trapped on a burning mattress in her bedroom.

The 47-year-old father pulled his daughter from the burning bed, suffering burns to his lips and nose, and escaped the unit with his family. Nafisha sustained burns but is alive.

‘I just grab her and run,’ the west African immigrant told the New York Times. ‘I didn’t think about anything except getting her out.’    

Smoke had filled the now ash-covered unit.

‘It was dark,’ his son, Hame Wague, 16, told the newspaper. ‘We were all coughing.’

Although his entire family survived the blaze, the tragedy left Wague stricken with grief.

‘I don’t want anybody life — I don’t want to hear anybody dead in this fire, that’s what I worry about,’ he told ABC 7 shortly after his rescue.            

Fire Marshals have ruled the blaze ‘accidental,’ with the cause being a malfunctioning space heater.  A New York City official, who spoke to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity, said officials suspect the space heater had been running uninterrupted for multiple days. 

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx

Emergency personnel from the FDNY provide medical aid as they respond to an apartment building fire in the Bronx

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx

Some of the items that caught fire at 333 East 181st Street in the Fordham Heights area of the Bronx

Some of the items that caught fire at 333 East 181st Street in the Fordham Heights area of the Bronx

Some of the items that caught fire at 333 East 181st Street in the Fordham Heights area of the Bronx

Firefighters respond to a five-alarm blaze that broke out in the Bronx on Sunday

The building is owned by Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, a consortium of three property developers; The Camber Property Group, Belveron Partners and the LIHC Group. They purchased the building along with seven others in late 2019 as part of a $160million deal on affordable housing in the Bronx. 

333 East 181st Street was formerly known as Twin Parks North West. They bought it for just shy of $25million – which values each of the 120 apartments inside at $206,000. The wider, $160million deal of 1,200 

The tenants are all households earning 60 percent of area median income. A family or household of four in the building earns, for example, $72,000 and generally their rent will be less than a third of that annual income – less than $2,000 per month. 

A spokesperson for the consortium would not confirm how much tenants pay in rent at 333 East 181st Street when contacted by DailyMail.com on Monday.  

The developers paid a third less than the average sale price of homes in the Bronx, and a seventh of the average sale price of apartments in New York City when they bought the properties in 2019. 

The owners charge tenants there less than the market rate for apartments in the area. 

They also receive subsidiaries from the local governments and enormous tax credits. 

Andrew (left) and Charlie Gendron (right) of the LIHC group, the third investor

Andrew (left) and Charlie Gendron (right) of the LIHC group, the third investor

Andrew (left) and Charlie Gendron (right) of the LIHC group, the third investor

According to an announcement at the time they bought the properties, the developers said they intended to renovate.  

It’s unclear if any renovations had begun but records filed with the Department of Housing indicate more than two dozen violations and complaints at the building since 2013.

Public records show the building has open violations for cockroach and mouse infestations, lead paint and water leaks, however no structural violations were listed. 

Some of the complaints were filed in December of 2021.   

The developers agreed to keep the properties within the city’s roster of affordable housing when they purchased them. 

They said they would keep them affordable for the next 40 years at least.  

One of The Camber Group’s founders is Rick Gropper, who was among hundreds listed as a contributor to new Mayor Eric Adams’ transition team in the housing department. 

The others are Andrew and Charlie Gendron, of the LIHC Group, and Paul Odland of Belveron.  

A spokesman for Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, the group of investors who own the building, told The New York Times that the fire alarm system in the building was working on Sunday and that there were no outstanding concerns. 

‘We are devastated by the unimaginable loss of life caused by this profound tragedy. 

‘We are cooperating fully with the Fire Department and other city agencies as they investigate its cause, and we are doing all we can to assist our residents.

‘Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured, and we are here to support them as we recover from this horrific fire.’  

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had 'no heat'

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had 'no heat'

The building received various complaints from residents last year, including at least four alleging their unit had ‘no heat’

The developers who own the building where the fire occurred on Sunday also own another seven in the neighborhood, shown above. They purchased them in 2019 as part of a deal in which they acquired 1,200 apartments for $160million - an average of $133,333 per apartment. The average market cost of an apartment in the Bronx is three times that as around $365,000

The developers who own the building where the fire occurred on Sunday also own another seven in the neighborhood, shown above. They purchased them in 2019 as part of a deal in which they acquired 1,200 apartments for $160million - an average of $133,333 per apartment. The average market cost of an apartment in the Bronx is three times that as around $365,000

The developers who own the building where the fire occurred on Sunday also own another seven in the neighborhood, shown above. They purchased them in 2019 as part of a deal in which they acquired 1,200 apartments for $160million – an average of $133,333 per apartment. The average market cost of an apartment in the Bronx is three times that as around $365,000 

The five-alarm blaze is New York City’s deadliest in three decades. President Joe Biden, speaking with Mayor Adams Monday, offered his ‘heartfelt condolences and support’ to the victims, city leaders and residents. Biden told the mayor any resources the city needs will be made available.

Pope Francis offered his condolences Monday to the victims of the ‘devastating’ apartment fire. In a telegram sent to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan he offered ‘heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness’ to those affected by the blaze. 

The death toll, originally reported as 19, was downgraded to 17 on Monday. 

Addressing the revised numbers, Commissioner Nigro said patients had been taken to seven different hospitals in the city, which led to ‘a bit of a double count’. 

‘This number could unfortunately increase again,’ he told reporters.  

‘We pray to God that they’ll be able to pull through,’ Mayor Adams echoed, adding: ‘If we take one message from this (disaster), it’s close the door.’ 

At least 200 firefighters responded to the scene, some arriving within minutes of the initial call for help. As they entered the building, the first responders were met with flames in the hallway.  

The mayor said the fire crews continued rescue measures even after running out of oxygen.

‘Their oxygen tanks were empty and they still pushed through the smoke,’ Adams explained, noting that icy conditions made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blaze. 

‘The impact of this fire is going to really bring a level of pain and despair in this city,’ Mayor Adams said during a press conference early on Sunday, shortly after the blaze was extinguished. 

‘The numbers are horrific. We have over 32 people who are life-threatening at this time. This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed in the City of New York in modern times.’ 

Sunday’s blaze came just days after a Philadelphia house fire killed 12 people, including eight children.

That was the deadliest fire at a U.S. residential apartment building since 2017, when 13 people died in an apartment in the Bronx, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.

That fire started after a three-year-old boy was playing with stove burners.

The deadliest fire prior to that was in 1989 when a Tennessee apartment building fire claimed the lives of 16 people.

Source: dailymail

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