Unattended Candles Caused Fire That Killed Boys, Ages 6 and 11: FDNY

There were no working smoke detectors in the home, according to authorities

Candles left unattended caused the fire at a Queens home that killed two young brothers Monday night, officials said Tuesday.

The boys, identified as 6-year-old Andrew Kavanagh and 11-year-old John Kavanagh, were found in cardiac arrest on the second floor of the Tioga Drive home in St. Albans after the flames were doused around 8 p.m. They were pronounced dead at a hospital.

Fire officials said the blaze began in a sofa in the first floor living room; a candle was found melted to the floor nearby. The flames spread to the second floor, where other candles were found. Witnesses told officials the family used candles in prayer ceremonies, according to the FDNY.

There were no smoke detectors on the first or second floors of the home and the ones in the basement failed to activate, officials said.

"All too often our members respond to fires where our children are victims," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. "Our mission is to make certain all New Yorkers learn from this tragedy and obtain a working smoke detector for their home."

Neighbor Orlonza Saunders, who was also inside the house at the time, suffered minor injuries when he jumped from a third-floor window to escape the smoke.

His arm was still bandaged Tuesday from cuts he got while breaking down glass as he escaped his smoke-filled apartment. 

Saunders said police told him John Kavanagh was found holding his younger brother Andrew under a bed on the second floor. 

He said the boys' mother, Marie Policard, had told him: "I always told him to protect his little brother." 

Policard's co-workers from a nonprofit agency that assists the developmentally disabled showed up at the home Tuesday to create a makeshift memorial with flowers, unlit candles and stuffed animals. 

"She lost her heart. That's all she worked for, her sons," said Vincent Davis. "That's all she talked about, her two boys." 

Authorities say the boys were left home alone while Policard was at work. She's not expected to be charged, police said. 

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