The fire started just before 6 a.m. on Grandview Avenue. Neighbors told CBS New York they could hear residents inside the home screaming before firefighters arrived.
Fighting through heavy flames and smoke, fire officials said second-floor rescues were impossible in the home.
"I heard the bang. That woke me up. I looked through my window. I saw and I heard voices, the neighbors screaming," neighbor Guido Diaz said.
It was a tragic sight for Diaz to wake up to. He said he believes that bang he heard was the left portion of the house collapsing. Officials said the two people upstairs died, adding a fallen power line on that side of the home cut off access to the second floor to rescue them. One victim was identified as the second-floor tenant of the two-family home. Authorities were still working Sunday to identify the second individual.
"Conditions deteriorated, the roof collapsed, the floor collapsed. We had to back out, had to go on defensive," Union Fire Chief Gregory Ricciardi said.
Ricciardi said the homeowner living on the first floor suffered burns to his arm. Neighbors said they believe the upstairs tenant was the homeowner's cousin.
"I heard from one of the neighbors that they were trying to put out the fire with a garden hose and he was trying the save the cousin," Ricciardi said.
Diaz, who lives directly across the street, said he has lived in the neighborhood since the late 1980s and believes the tenant upstairs lived there long before that.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and is not considered suspicious at this time.
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