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Child playing with stove to blame for the massive Bronx fire that killed 12, officials say

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12 dead in New York City apartment fire

More than 170 firefighters worked for hours in which the four-alarm blaze in the Bronx.

A child plays with a stove lit by a massive fire on Thursday evening that killed at least 12 people, including children, at an apartment building in the Bronx borough of New York City, the officials said.

Daniel Nigro, the FDBY fire commissioner, told reporters Friday that a 3 ½ year old child was tinkering with a stove on the first floor of the building when the fire broke out around 7 hours

FDNY Fire Marshals found that the fire started in the kitchen on the first floor. It started with a boy of 3 ½ years, playing with the burners on the stove -#FDNY Commissioner Nigro on the fatal 5th alarm at 2363 Prospect Ave #Bronx

— FDNY (@FDNY) December 29, 2017

The child’s mother left the apartment with her two children, and leaves the door open, allowing the fire to spread quickly, he said.

More than 160 firefighters responded to the four-alarm fire in the Bronx, only one block from the town’s famous zoo.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Nigro said the incident was the worst loss of life caused by the fires in the city, with the exception of the September 11 terrorist attacks, since 87 people were killed at a social club fire in the Bronx in 1990.

Here is the official statement about the fatal fire in the Bronx pic.twitter.com/sxVtiNp0sV

— New York City Alerts (@NYCityAlerts) December 29, 2017

More than 170 firefighters were on the scene of the four-alarm fire, located at a five-story walk-up apartment house in the Bronx, only one block from the town’s famous zoo, FOX5 New York reported. The fire department worked to battle the blaze in temperatures up to 15 degrees.

We are closely monitoring the devastating fire in the Bronx. As always, we are grateful for our first responders. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families tonight.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 29, 2017

The victims were children in the age of 1, 2, 7, and an unknown boy, the FIREFIGHTERS announced. The other victims were three women aged 19, 37, 63, an unidentified woman and four unidentified men. Governments do not have the name of the victims. Dozens of other victims were rescued with injuries, but were expected to recover.

BdB tells @BrianLehrer that the fire appears to have started on the first floor of the building after a small child was playing with a stove. Accidentally. The fire quickly spread. BdB can not comment on the status of the building, but nothing is apparently problematic.

— Ben Max (@TweetBenMax) December 29, 2017

The New York Times reported a woman, her two daughters and her niece were among the dead. They were identified as Karen Stewart-Francis, 37, and her daughters, Kylie Francis, 2, and Kelly, Francis, 7, and her niece, Shawntay Young, 19.

#BREAKING: Fire official tells me researchers determined that the cause of the Bronx fire, to Prospect Ave, which killed 12 people. It is excluded “suspicious” and there was a report of a natural gas leakage during the firefight. More details released at a press conference. @PIX11News

— Anthony DiLorenzo (@ADiLorenzoTV) December 29, 2017

Stewart-Francis ‘ mother, told the newspaper that the 13 members of the family has lived in the building.

“My daughter. My grandchildren. Tell me, what should I do?” Ambrozia Stewart said. “Four people that I lost.”

This tragedy is, without a doubt, historic in size. Our hearts go out to all the family who lost a loved one here and everyone is fighting for their life#FDNY Commissioner Nigro

— FDNY (@FDNY) December 29, 2017

The building had no elevator, the Associated Press reported, citing city records. Fire escapes are visible on the facade of the building.

The fire department responded to emergency calls within three minutes.

Witnesses described the scene of the fire and the panic of the building tenants.

“I heard a woman shout, ‘We are trapped, help!'”

– Jamal Flicker, a witness said.

A witness, Xanral Collins, told the New York Post he saw a father running in the direction of the building, but was not able to enter.

“I saw him and screamed,” My baby is dead! My baby is dead!'” Collins said.

BREAKING: at least 12 people have died, 4 have been seriously injured after massive apartment fire in the Bronx, new YORK officials say. “This tragedy is, without a doubt, historic in scope.” https://t.co/tePO1cKcYk pic.twitter.com/OtOQc5l9h3

— ABC News (@ABC) December 29, 2017

Jamal Flicker, a witness told the New York Post, he heard cries for help.

“The smoke was crazy, people screaming,” Get out!” Flicker said. “I heard a woman shout, ‘We are trapped, help!'”

“I went to four hospitals, I can’t find him,”

– Kwabena Mensah said of his missing son.

Neighborhood resident Robert Gonzalez, who has a friend who lives in the building, told the Associated Press she was on a fire escape as another occupant fled with five children.

“When I got here, she was crying,” Gonzalez said.

Kwabena Mensah told the Daily News that he feared that his son, Emmanuel Mensah, an AMERICAN soldier, was one of the victims of the devastating fire.

“He came home from the Army about a week ago for the holidays,” he said.

Mensah said his son’s roommate saw the soldier, before the fire broke out in the building.

“He told the roommate not to come out of the apartment, because there was smoke. But when she saved everyone from the windows, we couldn’t find him. I went to four hospitals, I can’t find him,” Mensah said.

New York city mayor Bill de Blasio at Thursday’s press conference, advised to “keep your family close and keep these families here in the Bronx in your prayers.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah cover breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

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