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  1. ITV Report

Horrific blaze that killed 12 in New York 'was started by child playing with stove'

A deadly fire that killed 12 people including a baby in New York is thought to have begun as a result as a child playing with a stove.

Four children are among those killed in the city's deadliest fire for decades.

At least four people are reported to be critically ill and fighting for their lives, after they were caught up in the Bronx fire.

Others described how they ran for safety as flames and smoke ripped through the building.

The cause of the fire is now thought to be an accident as a result of a child playing with a stove in a first-floor property, New York mayor Bill de Blasio said.

He described the fire as an "unspeakable tragedy".

Excluding the September 11 attacks, it was the worst fire in the city since 87 people were killed at a social club fire in the Bronx in 1990.

It is not clear whether the child who is thought to have ignited the fire was among those who perished.

Credit: APTN

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the blaze was "historic in its magnitude" because of the number of lives lost.

Those who died in the Bronx fire on Thursday night include three girls - aged one, two and seven - and a boy whose age was not given, the New York Police Department said.

Some residents made it down fire escapes but the flames moved so fast that many never made it out of their apartments.

Witnesses describe seeing burned bodies being carried away on stretchers and young girls who had escaped standing barefoot outside with no coats.

"Our hearts go out to every person who lost a loved one here and everyone who is fighting for their lives," Mr Nigro said.

The blaze broke out on the first floor of a five-story building just before 7pm and quickly ripped through the roughly century-old structure, which stands in a row of similar apartment buildings a block from the grounds of the Bronx Zoo.

Around 170 firefighters worked in bone-chilling -9C cold to rescue about a dozen people from the building.

At least 12 people have died in the blaze Credit: AP

Many questions remained in the immediate aftermath of the blaze, including how the fire spread so quickly in a brick building built after catastrophic fires at the turn of the 20th century ushered in an era of tougher enforcement of fire codes.

The building had more than 20 units. It was not new enough that it was required to have modern-day fireproofing, like sprinkler systems and interior steel construction.