At least five people, including three children were killed after a two-storey house was engulfed in flames in Queens, New York on Sunday (23 April), officials said. Firefighters took two hours to douse the blaze, which occurred at 2.30pm local time (7.30pm BST). What caused the fire is not known, but officials said that an explosion could have triggered it.
Two boys aged two and nine, a 14-year-old girl and two men aged 20 and 45 were trapped inside the house when the fire broke.
Footage broadcast by local channels showed thick plumes of smoke and massive flames spewing through the roof of the house. Officials said that the victims were related.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a person who was driving by the house called 911 and reported the incident. Other witnesses said that a middle-aged man managed to jump out of a second floor window onto the roof of a porch. He survived the fall and was not seriously injured, Nigro said, according to New York Times.
"It's a terrible, tragic loss," the fire department official said.
"These homes were built 97 years ago. They're wood-frame homes, and they burn rapidly," he added.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was at the scene along with Nigro said that the "loss was horrendous" as the fire had "moved very, very quickly" through the structure.
"This is a devastation of a family," De Blasio said and added, "There's a lot we need to know about what happened here."
One of the neighbours said he saw firefighters coming out of the house carrying a baby who was badly charred.