22 Mar 2015

House fire kills seven children in New York

6:54 am on 22 March 2015

Seven children from the same family died when their New York home was engulfed in flames after a portable cooker malfunctioned, authorities said.

Firefighters were called to the blaze in the home in the borough of Brooklyn shortly after midnight on Friday (local time).

The victims were aged between five and 15.

Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves the house where seven children died in a fire.

Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves the house where seven children died in a fire. Photo: AFP

A 45-year-old woman thought to be their mother and another girl survived and were being treated in area hospitals in critical condition.

Witnesses told the New York Daily News that the children were trapped inside as their mother jumped out a window.

"I heard a woman yelling 'My kids are in there. Get them out, get them out!'," a neighbour, Nate Weber, told the New York Daily News.

Mr Weber said he saw children being taken from the home on stretchers and "I knew it was bad news ... I just turned away. I didn't even want to look".

New York fire commissioner Daniel Nigro said it was believed the fire started because of a faulty hot plate that was being used to keep food warm.

Midwood has a high number of Orthodox Jewish residents and Mr Nigro said the hot plate was likely used because of cooking restrictions tied to the Sabbath.

"This is the largest tragedy by fire that this city has had in seven years," Mr Nigro said.

"It's a tragedy for this family, it's a tragedy for this community, it's a tragedy for the city."

More than 100 firefighters turned out to battle the blaze and brought it under control within an hour, officials said.

Mr Nigro said that the family had become trapped on the second floor when the fire reached the stairs, cutting off their escape.

"There was no evidence of smoke detectors on either the first or the second floor that may have alerted this family to the fire," he said.