Investigators say that flames from a fireplace at a Queens home are to blame for a New Year's Day fire that killed a 7-year-old boy and left his 12-year-old brother in critical condition. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
A heavy fire tore through a Queens home shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, taking the life of 7-year-old Christopher Miller.
Fire officials said that sparks from a lit fireplace ignited pillows, blankets and furniture, spreading throughout the house.
"When units arrived on the scene, heavy fire on arrival coming out of the windows on the first floor," said FDNY Assistant Chief Ronald Spadafora.
Crews had to enter through the flames to try and rescue victims. One neighbor, Marie Bouzy, said she even tried to get into the house before firefighters arrived.
"I heard screams in there, and I tried to open the door, and that's when the window was kind of shattered. The glass was coming," Bouzy said. "Somebody said to me, 'No, no, move back, move back, move back.' I was so scared."
Fire officials said that Christopher and his 12-year-old brother were upstairs at the time of the fire and tried to escape, but were overcome by the flames, smoke and intense heat.
The brother suffered serious burns and is in critical condition.
Christopher's body was found lying at the foot of the steps on the first floor.
Their grandfather and two young adults in the home managed to escape unharmed.
Dozens of firefighters worked to get the blaze under control. Three were treated for minor injuries.
"It took a while for the fire to be extinguished," Spadafora said. "They faced window bars. They were able to stretch hose lines, access the victims, take them out of the building."
Meanwhile, residents on 90th Street in Elmhurst were in shock.
"A lot of flames from those two windows," said neighbor Odysseus Kallegras. "It was horrible."
"This is the beginning of the year. I really pray for his soul," said neighbor Siva Deychoudhury. "It's really, really, it's a bad start."
Oscar Morales' nephew played baseball with Christopher.
"The father is from Brazil, and the mother of the kids are from Colombia. Very nice neighbors," Morales said. "It never happen before on this block, a fire like this. I don't know what to say. A lot of pain."