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Deadly Bronx Fire Survivor: 'OK, We're Going To Die'; Red Cross On Hand Assisting Displaced Tenants

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Tenants recounted the harrowing moments Sunday as they tried to escape the Bronx apartment fire that killed 19 people.

There are more than 100 units in the Fordham Heights building and a representative for the Red Cross told CBS2's Lisa Rozner no one will be without a place to sleep Sunday night.

PHOTOS: Bronx Apartment Fire Kills 19, Including 9 Children

The nonprofit is registering people at a school to put them up in hotels, and it's also offering food as well as mental health services.

"A reception center has been opened for those in need of assistance at The Angelo Patri Middle School located at 2190 Folin St., Bronx, NY 10457. Families in need can also contact the Red Cross at 877-RED CROSS. Red Cross services are available to all in need during times of emergency -- regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or citizenship status. For those searching for a loved one, please call 311," the Red Cross said in a statement.

Watch: Mayor Adams, FDNY Commissioner Nigro Hold Press Conference On Deadly Bronx Apartment Fire

Rozner saw people outside the school breaking down due to the traumatic event they experienced earlier in the day. Some explained how they thought they were living their last moments and how they eventually escaped. One man said he found a family in the laundry room injured and afraid.

"I held onto the wall and I had just prayed and I got all the way to the door, to the staircase, where there was the amount of horrifying things I seen there and I got downstairs and I got to the laundromat. I got them first aid kits, told them everything is going to be fine, stay calm. One of them was passed out. One of them had injuries to the head and the other little girl had injuries to her back," said Michael Joseph, who lives on the sixth floor.

"We open the door, the smoke came, so I close the door immediately and tell my son, 'OK, the fire's here,'" 16th-floor tenant Guillermo Sanchez said. "I said, 'OK, we're going to die.' You know? ... It's not easy."

READ MOREFordham Heights Apartment Fire One Of The Most Deadly In Bronx In Last 30-Plus Years

Mohamed Trawalley on the 12th floor said he opened his doors, only to quickly close them after seeing smoke.

"When I clear my throat, all I see is black mucus. It was so serious. I've never see anything like it before," Trawalley said.

The FDNY eventually came to each unit to tell tenants it was okay to leave.

Frantz Sannon could not reach his 75- and 76-year-old parents who live just two floors away from where the fire started. After searching area hospitals, he finally found them at the school.

"Oh man, I'm just overwhelmed right now. I was thinking of the worst," Sannon said.

Late Sunday night, Rozner saw some tenants who were able to retrieve their pets and a bag, before boarding an MTA bus to nearby hotels where they would stay for the night.

Earlier, people of all faiths and backgrounds donated food clothing, toiletries, and other items.

Some clothes -- jackets, sneakers, pants, for kids, for adults," volunteer Almida Velasquez said.

Moving forward, Christina Farrell, first deputy commissioner of New York City Office of Emergency Management, said, "We are not accepting any type of physical donations due to COVID and we're figuring things out. We are looking at setting up some type of fund through the city."

Mayor Eric Adams later tweeted out information about a city-sponsored fund for the impacted.

Congressman Ritchie Torres said, "The Bronx has been the scene of the worst fires in the past three decades. A few years ago we had a catastrophic fire in Belmont. Three decades ago, Happy Land, and for me it raises questions about the quality of our housing stock."

The congressman said too many buildings lack "21st century standards of fire prevention."

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