This story has been updated.
UPDATE 10:48 a.m. EDT:
At an 8 a.m. news conference in Brooklyn, fire commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said the fire at a single-family house on Bedford Avenue in the borough's Midwood neighborhood was caused by a malfunctioning hot plate that was left on a counter. The blaze was reported just before 12:30 a.m.
Nigro said the fire started on the home's first floor and moved upstairs to the second floor, where nine family members were in bed. Two family members were able to escape by jumping out of windows.
“This is the largest tragedy by fire that this city has had in seven years,” Nigro said during the conference, according to the New York Times. “It’s a tragedy for this family, it’s a tragedy for this community, it’s a tragedy for the city.”
Seven children, aged between 5 and 15, died when a fire broke out in a Brooklyn residence early Saturday. Another two people, including the mother of at least three of the children, are believed to be critically injured, according to local media reports.
“Two of the children weren’t breathing when they brought them out. The firefighters were running with them down the street on stretchers,” an emergency medical services volunteer told the New York Post. “The mother was covered in soot. It’s horrible inside.”
The mother and another child were taken to hospital in a critical condition, Michael Parrella, a spokesman for the New York Fire Department said, according to a Reuters report.
“I was standing in front of the house when the smoke just hit me. I saw the smoke and I knew it was bad news,” a neighbor told the New York Daily News. “I saw the EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] carrying people on the stretcher. I turned away. I didn't even want to look.”
More than 100 firefighters reportedly responded to the blaze after receiving a call about the fire just after midnight and brought it under control in less than an hour. The cause of the fire is not yet known. Jim Long, another spokesman for the fire department, reportedly said that the cause of the fire is being investigated by the city fire marshal’s office.