NYC apartment fire: Pope sends condolences

Pope Francis offered his condolences Monday to the victims of the "devastating" Bronx apartment fire in the Fordham Heights section that killed 17 people, eight of them children.

Francis sent a telegram to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan offering "heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness" to those affected by the blaze. The telegram was signed by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The NYC apartment fire, which also sent dozens of people to the hospital, was the deadliest in New York City in three decades. Investigators say a malfunctioning electric space heater, plugged in to give extra heat on a cold morning, started the fire in the 19-story building.

Francis' message noted the loss of so many children, and said the pope "entrusts the victims and their families to the merciful love of Almighty God and invokes upon all consolation and strength in the Lord."


More than five dozen people were injured, 30 were hospitalized and 13 were in critical condition.

According to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, smoke from the fire ran the entire height of the building, and responding firefighters found victims in stairwells on every floor of the building.  Most of the victims suffered from severe smoke inhalation.

Mayor Adams praised the work of firefighters at a press conference Sunday evening.

"Their oxygen tanks were empty and they still pushed through the smoke.  You can't do this if you don't feel attached to this city and this community," Adams said.

Editor's note: New York City Mayor Eric Adams revised the death toll down to 17 from the 19 that was reported on Sunday.  The number of children killed was revised to 8.

With The Associated Press.