Yanks to pay funerals for Bronx victims

Yanks to pay funerals for Bronx victims

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees have voluntarily committed to paying the funeral costs for victims of a Bronx house fire that killed nine people Wednesday.

Eight children and one adult perished when fire engulfed a row house near Yankee Stadium late Wednesday. The fire was the deadliest in New York City in 17 years, apart from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.

The blaze ignited a four-story brick building at 1022 Woodycrest Avenue, in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx. It is believed to have been ignited by a faulty space heater located in the building's basement.

Yankees principal owner George M. Steinbrenner addressed the club's commitment in a statement released Friday through spokesman Howard Rubenstein.

"The horrible tragedy in the Bronx which has resulted in the loss of life of nine of our neighbors has touched our hearts and those of all New Yorkers," Steinbrenner said.

"The New York Yankees have tremendous sympathy for the families and friends of those who have lost their lives or have been injured. We hope that by paying for the funerals, our assistance will be able to ease some of their burden."

With the community in mourning, numerous local groups have opened efforts to raise money to assist the affected families, Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrion Jr. announced Friday.

More than $20,000 has been raised by local businesses. The New York City Produce Market at Hunts Point has also donated $5,000 to the effort, Carrion said.

"I want to thank everyone who has demonstrated their care and humanity, including the Yankees, as this devastated community mourns its losses," Carrion said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.