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New York revises the death toll in fatal Bronx fire to 17, including 8 children

Updated January 10, 2022 at 2:40 PM ET

New York City authorities have revised down the number of people who died in a five-alarm fire inside a Bronx high-rise building on Sunday.

Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that 17 people lost their lives in the fire, including eight children.

City officials previously said on Sunday that 19 people perished in the blaze, including nine children.

"Patients were taken to seven different hospitals. There was a bit of a double count. And I guess it's a bit of good news that the number isn't 19 but 17," New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

"But don't forget there are many people fighting for their lives in the hospital," Nigro added. "This number could unfortunately increase again."

The fire was caused by a malfunctioning electric space heater inside of a two-story apartment that spanned the second and third floors of the building. The residents in the apartment where the fire occurred fled the apartment, officials said, but the door remained open. The door was supposed to be self-closing, Nigro said, but didn't work properly.

Although the fire itself was contained to the hallway just outside the apartment, Nigro said the open door caused the 19-story building to quickly fill with smoke, which is what led to the injuries and deaths.

Adams said it wasn't officials' intent to place blame on the family that fled the fire in their apartment, suggesting instead that it was a moment to reinforce the fire safety mantra of closing the door to prevent a blaze from spreading.

"It is our obligation to reinforce the concept of 'close the door, close the door,'" the mayor said. "But 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."

Nigro said a stairwell door on the 15th floor was also left open, even though it was also self-closing, allowing the smoke to billow in.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.