Soldier visiting NYC for holidays dies trying to save people from fire

Firefighters respond to a building fire Thursday Dec. 28 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York

As his mother fled the burning apartment with him and his sibling, she left the apartment door open, a mistake that would prove fatal.

New York City's fire commissioner says a stairwell acted like a chimney and quickly spread a deadly fire that was started by a child playing with a stove.

"People had very little time to react", he said.

Officials have not released the identities of the victims of the Thursday night blaze, but Ambrozia Stewart told several news outlets they include her youngest daughter and three granddaughters. "Those that tried perished".

Father Jonathan Morris, pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in the Bronx, spent hours following the fire consoling families at hospitals as they grappled with the injury, loss or uncertainty of what would happen to their loved ones. Also identified as deceased were Maria Batiz, 58, and 19-year-old Shantay Young.

"Close the door, close the door, close the door", Nigro said.

The fire killed at least 12 people, including four children, in the city's deadliest blaze in more than 25 years. He says he heard people screaming, "There's a fire in the building!" More than 160 firefighters were called in to tackle what became a five-alarm fire.

Arctic blast hitting Highland Lakes hard this weekend
High temperatures will only reach the middle single digits, keeping wind chills from minus 5 to minus 15 degrees through the day. A breeze produced wind chills 0° to 10° in the morning, and chills will stay in the teens to lower 20s in the afternoon.

Some residents made it down fire escapes.

Footage taken at the site shows charred walls and stairs inside the building. Shards of glass and chunks of ice littered the sidewalk outside.

A spokesman for the city's Department of Housing Preservation & Development said the 26-unit building has a "relatively low history of fix violations".

Mayor de Blasio told CNN on Friday, "This is a awful tragedy in the middle of the holidays".

Some tenants of the building climbed down fire escapes.

The building is in the Belmont section of the Bronx, a primarily residential, close-knit neighborhood known as the "Little Italy" of the borough, near Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo.

A priest in the Bronx, New York, tended to grieving families and asked for prayers for them as well as for victims of a December 28 fire, one of the deadliest in New York City and the borough's history, which left at least 12 dead and many fighting for their lives.

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