We didn’t think this story could get anymore tragic, but we were wrong. The cause of devastating Bronx fire that claimed the lives of 12 people last week has been identified. A toddler in a first-floor apartment was playing at the stove, and started the fire that quickly ripped through the building. It’s all so, so awful.

Investigators were able to determine that the Bronx fire started in a first-floor apartment.

A young mother lived there with her 2 children, a 3-year old and a 2-year old. The 3-year old, who was known to play with the stove knobs, accidentally started the fire. The mother grabbed her two kids and ran out. The door to her apartment was left open, which is how the fire was able to spread so quickly. The fire moved up the stairwell fast, seeking air and growing by the second.

In a matter of minutes, the entire building was engulfed, and people were trapped inside their apartments. Some residents were able to get to the fire escapes before it was too late. Others were trapped inside their apartments almost immediately, with no way out.

In addition, the fire broke out on the coldest night of the year, and firefighters (although they were on the scene within minutes) were unable to get water to flow from the hydrant in front of the building. The water was frozen, and they had to move down the block. By the time they got water and made their way back to the burning building, it was far too late.

In all, 12 people lost their lives in the deadliest fire in 27 years in New York. Babies, kids, entire families gone.

One man who died that night is being hailed as a hero. Emmanuel Mensah, a Ghana native serving this country in the armed forces, saved 4 people from the inferno. He died going back in for the 5th person. He was home on leave for the holidays.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking to read the stories of the victims and the lives torn apart by one tragic accident. But there is something to be learned from this: always, ALWAYS close your doors if you’re fleeing a fire. Open doors hasten the spread of the flames. Closed doors can save lives. Our hearts are with all of the families affected by the devastating fire.

(Image: Facebook/Breaking911)