CLAREMONT — Two young sisters left alone by their parents died Wednesday night when burning incense sparked a fire that tore through their third-floor apartment in the Butler Houses, officials said.
Eleven other people were injured in the blaze, according to the FDNY.
Amanda and Jannubi Jabie, 18 months old and 2, were alone in their home at 1368 Webster Ave., near East 170th Street, as their 26-year-old mother stepped out to go to a laundromat across the street, neighbors and officials said.
"I heard them crying for about 30 minutes and then I didn't hear them anymore," said next-door neighbor, Gladys Dozier, 71.
"I heard the kids crying. I thought maybe somebody was in there with them and then I heard something drop and I heard the kids stop crying," Dozier said.
Their mother came out of the laundromat and watched in horror from across the street as flames engulfed her home, neighbors said.
"I saw her screaming and saying something in her language," said Chantay Foi, 31, who lives upstairs.
"It was torture. They were burned to death," Foi added.
Police questioned the mother, but released her, an NYPD spokeswoman said.
The Administration for Children's Services is investigating the circumstances that led to the children's deaths, a spokeswoman said.
Six civilians and five firefighters were treated for minor injuries at St. Barnabas Hospital, an FDNY spokesman said.
About 60 firefighters brought the blaze under control by 8:44 p.m., FDNY officials said.
BX ALL HANDS 1368 WEBSTER AVE, MULTIPLE DWELLING FIRE ON THE 3RD FLR, UNDER CONTROL— FDNYalerts (@FDNYAlerts) April 14, 2016
Officials said the fire was sparked by incense that had been left unattended, officials said.
Cause of 4/13 fatal fire 1368 Webster Ave #Bronx was accidental, burning incense left unattended. No operational smoke alarms found— FDNY (@FDNY) April 14, 2016
After the fire, mourners placed teddy bears next to candles in a memorial outside the scorched apartment building.