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Mother, 3 of her kids killed in Brooklyn house fire

Firefighters battle blaze that killed at least 4 people, 3 of them children, in Brooklyn, New York, early on December 18, 2017 

CBS New York

Last Updated Dec 18, 2017 6:58 AM EST

NEW YORK -- A mother and her three young children are dead after a fire tore through a home in Brooklyn early Monday morning,  CBS New York reports. The blaze broke out around 2:30 a.m. in the three-story, single family house in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said by the time firefighters arrived, the home was already engulfed in flames.

"It was early morning, everyone in the home was asleep," Nigro said. "The fire gets started and it got a good start before a neighbor noticed and called us." 

"The fire traveled very quickly," Nigro said. "The fire went from the first floor front, up the stairs to the second, again up the stairs to the attic."

One witness described what he saw.  "The fire was like five feet on top the house, that big was the fire," Naim Ila said.

Inside the home was a couple, their six children and a cousin, Nigro said. A 40-year-old woman and three of her children — an 11-year-old boy, a 7-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl — were all killed. Nigro said they were found on the second floor.

"The father and two other teenagers are in critical condition and fighting for their lives in the hospital," Nigro said. "Two other boys were injured but not critically."

The fire commissioner said at least one of the teens jumped from the burning building. The others who survived were able to get out a side door.

"This is a terrible tragedy, not just for this community, but for our city. This time of year, when these things strike, it just tears your heart out for the family," Nigro said. "Our city grieves with this family today."

Five firefighters also suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.