New York

Fire Deaths Up More Than 50 Percent in New York City in 2017: FDNY

Two residential fires in December alone were responsible for 17 deaths

What to Know

  • The FDNY says fire deaths were up significantly in 2017, a year that ended with 13 people dying in a Bronx apartment inferno
  • 26 people were killed in fires in December, the highest number in any month in the city in decades
  • The FDNY says it has increased its outreach to communities, educating hundreds of thousands of kids and giving away smoke detectors

Fire deaths increased by more than 50 percent in New York City last year following a record-low in 2016, the FDNY announced Friday.

There were 73 civilian fire deaths in 2017 -- 25 more than in 2016, when the city had 48 deaths, the fewest in 100 years of accurate statistics, according to the FDNY.

In December alone there were 26 civilian fire deaths, the highest number in any month in decades, the FDNY said.

Half of the December fire deaths were in the Dec. 28 Bronx fire, in which officials say a young child playing with a stove sparked a fast-moving blaze that consumed every floor of a Belmont apartment building, killing 13 people.

A second fire in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn on Dec. 18 killed a mother and her three children, ages 11, 7 and 3. Fire officials said an unattended lit menorah was to blame.

And in April, four family members and a friend were killed in a house fire in Queens. That fire was the deadliest in New York City since a house fire sparked by a hot plate in March 2015 killed seven children, all of them siblings.

The FDNY said the top three causes of deadly fires in 2017 were: open flames, which caused 19 fires; electrical hazards, which caused 15 fires; and smoking, which caused 11 fires.

Fifty-three percent of the deadly fires in 2017 were in places with no working smoke alarm, the FDNY said.

“While we have worked very hard in recent years to educate millions of New Yorkers about fire safety, several recent tragedies demonstrate our work is far from over and we must do all we can to reach everyone with vital, life-saving knowledge about how to prevent fires and what to do if you’re in a fire situation,” Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a press release.

The FDNY says it has dramatically increased its outreach to communities, including Fire Safety Education presentations and the distribution of smoke alarms through the citywide initiative GETALARMED NYC. It also said it will be enhancing its Juvenile Fire-setters Initiative Program in the wake of the deadly Bronx fire.

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