What to Know
A fire in Gravesend injured eight people, most of them family members, Saturday
The fire took over a first-floor apartment, sending thick, black smoke spewing out windows as children screamed inside, witnesses said
Four people, including two children, were in critical condition; two other children were in serious condition, officials said
A raging fire that trapped a family of eight in a Brooklyn high-rise was caused by a malfunctioning air-conditioner, the fire marshal said Sunday.
The fire was accidental and sparked by the electrical appliance. The apartment in the Marlboro Houses in Gravesend had one functioning smoke detector, officials said.
Eight people were hurt, including four children as young as 9 months old. On Sunday, four people remained in critical condition and two others were in serious but stable condition. Two people refused treatment at the scene.
Witnesses described seeing thick, black smoke and hearing children screaming from a first-floor apartment.
Deputy Assistant Chief Richard Howe said about 80 firefighters and EMTs responded to a "very large" fire in a three-bedroom apartment around 2:30 p.m.
Kevin Rhodes said he and others rushed to the building with an axe to help, but that they couldn't get inside because there were bars on the windows. Firefighters eventually arrived and smashed through the windows to rescue those inside the apartment.
"Me and a couple friends tried to break the back windows, then the fire department came with axes and stuff and broke the back windows, pulled out a girl, a baby girl, two little boys and an adult," Rhodes said. "It was the fire department and civilians working together."
Glenda Reyes said the mother of some of the children was overwhelmed and fainted in her arms.
"She was just screaming, 'My babies, my babies,'" Reyes said.
Fire officials said the building is fireproof and that the fire did not spread to other apartments.