An Easter weekend fire that killed two young siblings in a Bayswater basement may have been caused by children playing with a lighter, authorities said Sunday.

The fire, which claimed the lives of Jai'Launi Tinglin and his half-sister Aniya Tinglin, both 4, appeared to be accidental, the FDNY said.

The two children had suffered smoke inhalation and were pronounced dead at St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, according to the New York Police Department.

The two had been in the Bay 30th Street home during the fire, which broke out late Saturday at the foot of a bed in a basement bedroom as the children's 63-year-old grandfather slept.

Police said Sunday they suspected one of the children had been playing with a lighter when the fire began.

Jai'Launi's twin sister, the grandfather, and a 55-year-old woman survived the blaze. Each was taken to a separate hospital and all were listed in stable condition Sunday.

Neighbors of the family said the grandfather, known in the neighborhood as "Papi" or "Pops," tried desperately to save his grandchildren from the flames.

Ryan Raj, 25, said he saw the man he calls "Pops" run out of the home holding one of the children. But Raj and others restrained the grandfather as he tried to plunge back into the smoke-filled home to rescue the two other children.

"He was trying to go back in for the other two babies," Raj said, adding that the grandfather was crying and had burns on his hands. "He kept asking . . . 'What's going on with the babies? Are the babies OK?' He tried to save them. There was no way."

Jennifer Weisel, 29, who lives around the corner, watched as firefighters pulled the children from the house.

"I heard a fireman scream . . . 'I got them, I got them,' " she said, adding that first responders worked on the children for almost a half-hour on the grass. "It's just absolutely horrible to lose two kids on Easter Sunday."

Herman Ojeda, 38, who lives across the street, said the grandfather is the gardener for many on the block and doted on his grandchildren.

"That's all he talks about -- he loved those kids," Ojeda said.


With Alison Fox