The Fire in a Bronx Apartment Illustrates Why Energy Efficiency Isn’t Just a Climate Issue
New York’s deadliest fire in decades was likely started by a space heater.
We need better buildings to ensure that everyone has a safer, more comfortable future.
On Sunday, a fire in a Bronx apartment killed 19 people, including nine children under the age of 16.
The fire was the deadliest in New York in over three decades.
According to initial reports, the fire was started by a malfunctioning space heater, demonstrating that energy efficiency upgrades to apartments are not only a climate issue, but also a pressing justice issue.
Officials believe the heat in the Twin Parks West building was working on January 9, when the fire broke out late in the morning, but a space heater was used to provide additional heat in one apartment.
While the fire itself was contained to a duplex apartment on the second and third floors, the black smoke quickly filled the building, which had no outside exits; residents broke windows to breathe as they became covered in soot.
Rescuers said they discovered people in need of assistance on every floor of the 19-story structure, including many who were in cardiac and respiratory arrest.
In addition to the deaths, over 60 people were injured, with 13 of them requiring hospitalization.
Despite having asthma, resident Anthony Romero, 40, told the New York Daily News that he had no choice but to stay in his 12th floor apartment with his pregnant wife and two children.
“There was too much smoke in the corridors; there was no way I was going to leave my apartment and make it from the 12th to the first floor alive.”
Internal stairwells clogged with smoke and doors that didn’t close properly, allowing smoke to spread, were among the key fire safety issues that contributed to the Twin Parks West fire’s devastation.
However, the cause of the fire—a resident using a space heater on a cold, but not freezing, January day—must not be overlooked.
In the winter, residents in public and affordable housing have been forced to rely on space heaters and even gas stoves for warmth, increasing the risk of indoor air pollution, fire hazards, and…
Brinkwire in a nutshell.