Three adults who were found dead in a Long Island house fire had been shot first, police said.
It was unclear if the three people -- all adults -- died from the gunfire or perished in the blaze but investigators said the fire inside the Central Islip two-story home was intentionally set -- perhaps to cover up a murder.
The three bodies were found badly damaged in a rear bedroom. Sources said it still appears that one of the victims had been strangled, as well.
Two boys, ages 2 and 5, were outside of the Central Islip home when firefighters arrived at about 5:30 a.m. It is not known why they were outside at that early hour. They were taken to a hospital as a precaution and are now in Suffolk County protective services.
The victims found in the home have been identified as Katrice Daniels, 31, who lived in the residence; her sister, Mykier Daniels, 28, who was also the mother of the two boys who escaped; and Louis Calixto, 19, who lived on Ackerman Street.
Suffolk County Homicide Detective Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick says firefighters were called to a blaze at about 5:30 a.m. yesterday.
A neighbor told Newsday the house "went up like a matchbox."
"This thing went up in a matter of seconds," Jesse Scott said. "The flames were over the house. It went up very fast, very fast."
When rescuers arrived, they found the Hickory Street house fully engulfed in flames. Volunteers from neighboring towns fought the blaze and managed to contain it just before 7 a.m., Newsdayreported.