EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- One woman and one teen were killed in a Brooklyn fire officials have deemed as suspicious.
Neighbors awoke to screams and then fire trucks just after 2 a.m. Tuesday as flames broke out in a Fountain Avenue apartment building.
"I can see the flames going from the bottom to the top," neighbor Rakib Hasan said. "And I see somebody open the door. And the fire I can also see in the hallway and staircase."
Officials said it is believed that the stairwell in the apartment was intentionally set on fire.
A 36-year-old woman was found unconscious inside and was pronounced dead at the scene.
"I had seen somebody laying face down and they were doing CPR. And there was another guy and it looked like his hands were burnt up really bad," a neighbor said.
Officials say three girls, ages 10, 14, and 17, and one 9-year-old boy were taken to Brookdale Hospital in critical condition. A man was also taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition.
The 17-year-old girl later died at the hospital.
Authorities say firefighters battled heavy fire when they arrived at the three-story building, with flames shooting out of the second-floor windows.
"Very heavy fire at the front door, which extended up the staircase to the third floor and to the second floor apartment, and came out of those front windows," FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Chuck Downey said.
Sixty firefighters were on the scene. One firefighter was also treated for minor injuries.
Officials say the victims appear to be family members. The landlord, who lives on the first floor, and some neighbors say the family lived on the second and third floors of the affected building.
They also say a relative of the victims owns a beloved neighborhood deli.
"Any time you see a whole family like this together, at this time of the night, the amount of fire. The emotion outside of some neighbors, family members. It's very emotional," Downey said.
A fire investigation quickly turned into a criminal investigation with arson investigators on scene. It's believed the fire was set to a stairwell.
Officials say that firefighters arrived in about two minutes to fight the blaze, but a vehicle was blocking a nearby fire hydrant they needed access to.
The cause of this fire is currently under investigation.
So far in 2023, 45 people have died in New York City fires, compared to 32 that died by this time in 2022. That number for last year includes the 17 victims who died in the Tremont fire.
Those numbers include the body of a 70-year-old woman who was found inside her apartment in the Bronx on Tuesday morning and officials announced that two victims died after a fire in Washington Heights over the weekend.
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