Which makes you wonder, why did the tenant need the space heater? I mean, my sister’s Brooklyn apartment has radiators that make it uncomfortably hot unless you open the window. And I have heard stories of landlords in lower rent buildings who just don’t fire up the boiler to save money.
There are 13 victims critically injured so the death toll may well rise. It’s a low-income housing building, so probably not well-maintained.
From one of the NY Times articles, “A city official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the fire was still under investigation, said fire marshals believe the space heater had been running for several days uninterrupted. The residents were using the heater to supplement the building’s heat, which was on, officials said.”
I spent 4 years living a mile away from that building, 1986-1990, and my son lives a mile away from it now.
Possibly just because some people like it warmer than others. My mother and sister live in the same two family house and there isn’t any landlord other than my sister to decide not to turn on the heat. My mother often has a space heater on when she is awake because she likes the temperature to be about 80 degrees - and if the heating system gets her apartment to 80, my sister’s will be around 90.
Whenever my mother happens to be staying a few days at my house in winter, she not always has my heat going full tilt, but evenings will find her bundled up on the couch watching TV with my space heater on “HIGH”. I tell her over and over not to run it on HIGH and not to sleep with it running because it draws so much current the cord is hot to the touch: Not Good!
Of course, we know that room temperature covers a wide range from 65 to about 80; she likes it up around 400, but that’s another story.
It is impressive, that the fire was not that widespread beyond the apartment it started in, but it generated smoke as to overwhelm the entire building.
The reports of a history of “many previous false alerts” making people disregard the smoke alarms probably is a critical part of the death toll. People reacting too late.
And when you think about it, an older building may have a heating system that when set up 50 years ago was “on paper” capable of keeping all units at 70ish, but time takes its toll on equipment and insulation.
I imagine older buildings did not have enough to begin with and conversely relatively newer buildings may assume everyone is using strips and relying on the strip breakers and that almost everything will be relatively low-current electronics rather than something that creates a sustained heavy load.
I’m glad to be wrong, then.
About the space heater issue, the NY Times article says that many of the victims “are Muslim immigrants from the West African nation of Gambia”, so probably not used to cold weather. It points out that “many people still rely on outdated heaters with minimal safety features, or they do not know how to use heaters safely, fire experts said.” Bronx Fire: Mayor Revises Number Killed to 17, Including 8 Children - The New York Times
(sorry, I’m a NYT subscriber and don’t know how non-subscribers can get around the paywall)