A deadly fire sparked by candles in a two-story Queens home Monday evening killed two young children, FDNY officials said.
The blaze erupted on a sofa in the first-floor living room of the St. Albans home just after 7 p.m. Several candles were found nearby, officials said, and one had melted itself into the floor nearby.
There were no smoke detectors in the main house, said Deputy Chief Dan Browne.
The ones in the basement did not activate, Fire officials said.
The children, 6-year-old Andrew Kavanagh and 11-year-old John Kavanagh, were dragged out by firefighters minutes after arriving, but it was too late. The boys were in cardiac arrest, according to FDNY officials, and were pronounced dead at Queens General Hospital.
"It was a heavy body of fire when EMS arrived," Browne said. "The family had a practice of using open candles and flames — they had matches in the back. They used the candles for religious reasons."
Orlanzo Saunders, 33-year-old,was able to jump out of the top floor window, onto the roof overhang and down to the ground.
“I just smelled the smoke and went downstairs. As I opened the door the smoke came up, so I ran back upstairs,” he said. “I felt nauseous.”
Saunders then looked all around for a way to escape the burning home.
"I broke the window with my arm," he said, showing a bandaged up right forearm. Saunders then frantically tried to get to the children trapped inside. "We were trying to kick the door to get back in. We tried to go through the side door. I barely escaped."
Saunders was not related to the children. No one else was in the home at the time.
Carmen Ford, who was very close with both boys, was shaken by the news.
"They were nice kids. I used to take care of them like they were my own," she said. "In really hurting, it's getting to me."
By Tuesday afternoon the faint smell of smoke still coated the air. The charred exterior a distinct reminder of the tragedy.?
“The big thing is they had no smoke detectors,” Browne said. “So, despite all our efforts, had they had smoke detectors that would have prevented the tragedy.”
The windows were boarded up and cleaners swept broken glass from the roof overhang.
“Everything upstairs is melted," Saunders said, pulling what few belongings he could save out of the burnt home.
As for the children, Saunders said they loved video games and watching TV. He was worried he didn't do enough to try to save them.