A fire that killed two young brothers on Monday night in Queens was caused by unattended candles that the family used in prayer ceremonies, fire officials said on Tuesday.
Fire marshals discovered a candle melted to the floor beside a sofa in the first-floor living room of the two-story home in the St. Albans neighborhood, the Fire Department said. The sofa caught fire and the blaze spread throughout the home, which the department said had a number of such candles.
Smoke detectors had not been installed on the first or second floors, and smoke detectors in the basement failed to activate, the Fire Department said.
The two brothers, identified by the police on Tuesday as Andrew Kavanagh, 6, and John Kavanagh, 11, were found on the second floor amid heavy flames by firefighters who responded shortly after 7 p.m. They were pronounced dead at Queens Hospital Center.
“All too often our members respond to fires where our children are victims,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement. “Our mission is to make certain all New Yorkers learn from this tragedy and obtain a working smoke detector for their home.”
The fire injured four other people, including three firefighters and a man who survived a leap from a third-floor attic. The boys’ mother arrived soon after firefighters.
“When the mother came, I heard her screaming,” a neighbor, Venay Mobley, 54, recalled. Ms. Mobley said the mother continued to yell: “Why did this happen to me? Why, why, why?