(TIML NEWS) The city’s deadliest blaze in more than a quarter-century killed least 12 people — including a year-old child — in a Bronx apartment building Thursday night, officials said.
Authorities feared the death toll could rise from the four-alarm fire, which began at 6:51 p.m. and gutted 2363 Prospect Ave. in the Belmont neighborhood near the Bronx Zoo.
“We’re here at the scene of an unspeakable tragedy in the middle of the holiday season, a time when families are together,” Mayor de Blasio said during a press briefing at the scene, where bone-chilling temperatures were in the teens.
“Tonight, here in The Bronx, there are families that have been torn apart. This is the worst fire tragedy we have seen in this city in at least a quarter-century.”
The fire stands to be the deadliest New York City blaze since 87 people perished in March 1990 in the Happy Land social-club arson attack, which took place less than a mile away.
About 170 firefighters worked Thursday night to control the blaze at the five-story building just a block from the Bronx Zoo, authorities said.
“Based on the information now, I’m very sorry to report 12 New Yorkers are dead, including one child as young as one-year-old,” de Blasio said.
“There are four people critically injured who are fighting for their lives. Other serious injuries as well.”
The baby was found in a bathtub — cradled in the arms of her mother, who was desperately trying to protect her child from the flames, law-enforcement and FDNY sources said.
Both had perished.
De Blasio warned that more victims could be found as investigators go through the building: “We may lose others as well.”
The mayor praised New York’s Bravest, who got to the scene about three minutes after the first report came in.
“Because of FDNY’s quick response, based on the information we have now . . . at least 12 people were rescued and will survive,” de Blasio said.
Thierme Diallo, who lives on the first floor, ran shoeless out of the burning building into the freezing night in only a bathrobe.
“I was in my bed sleeping . . . and somebody knock on the door shouting, ‘We have fire in the building. Get out! Get out!’ ” said Diallo, a security guard and native of Guinea.
“I don’t know how I get out, no socks, nothing. I left my cellphone there, I took only my wallet. I had to save myself. Then, by the exit, I saw the glass coming down like flames.”
Among the missing is 28-year-old Emmanuel Mensah, who serves in the Army and was home for the holidays, according to his dad, Kwabena Mensah.
“When they rescued [others] . . . they couldn’t find him,” the worried dad said.
Witnesses said they were amazed at how quickly the flames spread. Damn R.I.P