Firefighters rushed to 2773 Bedford Ave., near Farragut Road, just before 3 a.m., where they encountered heavy fire on the first floor of the two-story building, the FDNY and witnesses reported.
"When I came outside I saw the place engulfed and someone was screaming inside — a lady was screaming," recounted Carl Barnes, 53, who said he's lived in the neighborhood since 1979.
"The fire trucks came. They pulled the lady out.... When she got outside she was kneeling on the ground, no shoes on, crying."
Sunita Armogan, 47, who lives across the street from the family's home, described a similarly harrowing scene.
"Everybody was screaming and confused," described Armogan, who said she took in four people from the house to keep them warm.
"I can't imagine a mother not knowing if her kids are safe. She was hysterical. She was telling the cops 'You bring me back to the house to find [my] kids.'"
When firefighters extinguished the blaze about a half hour later, the boy's body was found.
It was not clear if the boy died as a result of the fire, and the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death, cops said.
A firefighter and another person suffered minor injuries and were taken to Long Island College Hospital.
"They're quiet people," said a longtime next-door neighbor, who gave only her first name, Natalie. "This is the quietest block. Nothing happens here. It's so surprising."
Police said the fire did not appear suspicious. The cause was under investigation, the FDNY said.