Human Interest Bronx Fire Death Toll Revised to 17, Including 8 Children, as Door Malfunction Is Investigated "There are many people fighting for their lives in the hospital,” said one New York City official, noting that the number could increase again By Maria Pasquini Maria Pasquini Associate Editor, Human Interest - PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 10, 2022 05:02 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Photo: Scott Heins/Getty New York City officials have revised the death toll of the devastating fire that broke out in the Bronx on Sunday morning. Calling the tragedy an "evolving crisis," Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday that the death toll had been updated to 17 people, including eight children. Authorities initially said that 19 people, including nine children, had lost their lives due to the blaze. "We said this yesterday and we will continue to say, this is an unspeakable tragedy," he remarked. FDNY Commissioner Dan Nigro explained that "there was a bit of a double count" as patients were taken to seven different hospitals on Sunday. However, he cautioned that the number of fatalities could still "unfortunately increase," as "there are many people fighting for their lives in the hospital." At least 44 people were injured in the fire and 13 are said to be "clinging to their lives" in nearby hospitals, according to WABC. The identities of the victims have yet to be released by authorities. As the investigation into the fire continues, authorities said on Monday they are "certain the fire started with a faulty electrical heater" and was "accidental" in nature. At Least 19 Dead, Including 9 Children, in New York City's Worst Fire in Over 30 Years, Officials Say On Sunday morning, first responders arrived within three minutes of receiving a call about a fire that had engulfed a 19-story high rise in the Bronx, according to New York City officials. "This fire began in an apartment that spans two floors, on the second and third floors of the building," the FDNY commissioner said in a press conference over the weekend. "The fire consumed that apartment that is on two floors and part of the hallway. The door to that apartment, unfortunately, when the residents left, was left open. It did not close by itself," he continued. "The smoke spread throughout the building, thus the tremendous loss of life and other people fighting for their lives right now all over the Bronx." Scott Heins/Getty During the press conference on Monday, N.Y.C. officials said the door to the apartment where the fire broke out, as well as another door on the 15th floor, were "not functioning" as they should, reported WABC. Per city law, self-closing doors are required to be installed in all apartment buildings with three or more apartments. "The door when it was fully open stayed fully open because it malfunctioned," explained Nigro. The FDNY commissioner said the investigation would also look into "some stories that the [fire] alarm system went off regularly," noting that smoke alarms were sounding in the apartment at the time of the fire. Officials were also asked about reports that residents had made a number of complaints about not having adequate heat in the building. (Records from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development show four previous complaints about the heat from February through December 2021, per Bloomberg.) Adams said that to their knowledge, there were "no outstanding" complaints, but that the investigation would examine that as well. The building where the fire broke out is owned by a group of investors, which includes Camber Property Group. As The New York Times first pointed out, the group was co-founded by Rick Gropper, a member of Adams' transition team on housing. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. "We are devastated by the unimaginable loss of life caused by this profound tragedy," a representative for Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC — the joint venture that owns the building — said in a statement, per ABC News. "We are cooperating fully with the Fire Department and other city agencies as they investigate its cause, and we are doing all we can to assist our residents," the rep continued. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured, and we are here to support them as we recover from this horrific fire." Scott Heins/Getty Several residents of the apartment complex spoke with The New York Times about the chaos and terror they experienced after the fire broke out. "It happened so quick," Cristal Diaz, who was spending time with her family in her apartment on the 15th floor, told the newspaper. Dilenny Rodriguez, who lived in a 12th-floor apartment with her two young children, recalled passing by a body as they made their descent — and realizing they "couldn't do anything" to help. "It was devastating," added Rodriguez. "My neighbors, they're like family to me." 12 People, Including 8 Children, Killed in Philadelphia Rowhouse Fire: 'Just Devastating' "This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed in modern times here in the City of New York," Mayor Adams said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. "We are going to do everything we can to bring services on the ground here to give them the assistance they need as we all recover from the trauma of what we are witnessing here in the buildings behind us," Adams said. The American Red Cross has stepped in to help assist victims of the fire, city officials confirmed. Those interested in donating can do so here.