When Abibou Sawadogo opened her apartment door, all she saw was black.
Stirred on Sunday morning by a fire alarm, the Twin Parks North West resident unlocked the door to her 18th floor unit to gauge the situation.
“You couldn’t see anything, only black from the smoke,” said Sawadogo, who made a quick decision.
“I felt we had to run. I thought we’d be dead,” she remarked.
More than 200 firefighters responded to the scene to combat the January 9 blaze at, the Fire Department (FDNY) said, which broke out around 11 a.m. on Sunday at 333 East 181st Street, a 19-story building with 120 apartments.
The five-alarm fire left 17 people dead – including nine children – and dozens injured, one of the worst residential building fires in the city’s history.
Fire investigators have identified a malfunctioning portable space heater as the cause of the fire. A malfunctioning door to the apartment where the fire started failed to close properly, allowing smoke to travel throughout the building, the FDNY said.