2 Girls Die in Bronx Apartment Fire, Mom Questioned: Officials

UPDATE: Burning Incense Sparked Blaze That Killed 2 Girls: FDNY

Two young girls died in a fire that broke out in their Bronx apartment Wednesday as their mother was doing laundry across the street, authorities and witnesses say. 

The sisters, 18-month old Amanda Jabie and 2-year-old Jannubi Jabie, suffered burns and smoke inhalation from the blaze inside their four-bedroom apartment on the third floor of the Butler Houses in Claremont, fire officials say. 

The children were taken to Bronx Lebanon Hospital, where they were later pronounced dead, police said. 

Twelve people, including three firefighters, were also injured in the blaze, according to the FDNY. 

The kids' mother was being questioned at the 42nd precinct on Thursday morning, police confirmed. 

Witnesses told NBC 4 New York that she wasn't home at the time of the fire. They say she was across the street at a laundromat and raced to the building when she heard the fire truck sirens.

She collapsed outside the building when she was unable to get in to reach her kids, witnesses said. 

"I see her coming straight across from the laundromat, screaming 'my babies, my babies,'" said witness Alison Baker. "Once they told her she couldn't come inside, she fell right there. They took her away."

Their mother was taken to the hospital, authorities say. 

Cellphone video shows paramedics working desperately to resuscitate the small children outside the building. 

"I watched 'em carry the two children out, lifelessness, it was horrible, horrible," said Baker. 

Most people standing outside on Webster Avenue during the fire could only watch, horrified and helpless. 

"We heard a little banging on the glass, we don't know if it was the children," said Baker.

FDNY Dep. Chief Gary Rocco said, "The couch was burning so the main fire was in the living room area. So if they burned, they were close to the area." 

A worker at the laundromat where the mother was still has her laundry, left behind when she raced across the street, he said. 

"Lady see the fire truck, then running, running across the street," said the worker, who didn't want to give his name. 

It's not clear what started the fire. Fire marshals are investigating a cause. 

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