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Coney Island fire accidental, caused by electrical problem, FDNY says

In-room air conditioner was the source of the blaze that left 2 kids, 2 adults in critical condition, fire officials say.

FDNY at the scene of an apartment fire

FDNY at the scene of an apartment fire at 2250 W. 11th St. in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

The cause of a large fire at a Coney Island public housing complex Saturday that left a 4-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy in critical condition, along with a man and a woman, was accidental and caused by an electrical problem related to an in-room air conditioner, officials said.

Early Sunday morning FDNY officials determined the cause of the blaze but gave no further details.

“The kids were covered in black, charcoal . . . from all the smoke, the father as well . . . I couldn’t recognize no one over there,” said Omar Yousof, 23, an Uber driver who lives in a neighboring building.

Two girls, a 9-month-old and a 9 year old, are in serious but stable condition after inhaling smoke from the flames that consumed the first-floor apartment in the Marlboro Houses complex.

Firefighters, who had to force their way in, extracted a total of eight people from the blaze, officials said.

This was a “very quick, very advanced fire” in a very large apartment, the FDNY said.

A total of 20 units, 80 firefighters and paramedics responded to the blaze that erupted at the 16-story Marlboro Houses on West 11th Street.

“This fire is under investigation. Nothing about it appears suspicious,” the FDNY said, adding the smoke detector in the apartment went off.

Randie Reyes, 17, who lives on the top floor, used to chat with the victims. “It’s like they’re family.”

The high school student, who heard windows exploding and ran downstairs after the fire alarms went off, continued:

“It’s like it really breaks my heart to have seen this happen.”

“It looked terrifying,” he said, explaining he saw the children in the fire, and a man “in bad condition,” appearing to be having a seizure.

The fire was reported at 2:51 p.m. Firefighters arrived in four-and-a-half minutes, and had it under control by 3:30 p.m., the FDNY said.

Those injured “immediately received care from our personnel on the scene. It could potentially make the difference though we have two critical,” the FDNY said.

Five of the patients are being treated at NYU Langone Hospital — Brooklyn. One is at Coney Island Hospital, the FDNY said.

The other occupants of the housing complex were allowed to return to their homes, officials said.

Taisha Campusano, 22, of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, was baby-sitting at the complex in a fourth-floor apartment for her friend’s 7-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter when the flames broke out.

“When I opened the door to see what happened, I couldn’t even breathe because of the smoke. I made sure the kids were OK. I grabbed everything and just run downstairs,” she said.

Campusano, who also was afraid for her mother, who lives on the second floor, could not immediately tell where the smoke was coming from.

“It was something that I can’t even explain. It’s just scary.”

Her two charges were terrified.

Aaliyah Diaz, 8, said: “I was shaking. I started to cry a little bit when I saw what’s happening to downstairs.”

Her brother, Elian Diaz, said he was scared and had been playing with Pokémon toys.

Fire marshals are investigating the blaze, the FDNY said.

Firefighters, wearing gloves, could be seen examining the floodlit apartment’s interior. Some of its windows were shattered, burned or blown out.

A child’s truck and a Hulk Hogan toy had been tossed outside.

Housing Authority personnel were sweeping up shattered glass. Next to the destroyed apartment once colorful banners, now charred, wished residents a merry Christmas.

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