Firefighters and other first responders work on the site of...

Firefighters and other first responders work on the site of a fatal fire on Staten Island. (July 22, 2010) Credit: AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Fire quickly burned through a four-apartment building early Thursday on Staten Island, killing a mother and her four children. Fire officials could not find any smoke detectors in the apartment.

The children were 2, 7, 10 and 14, and lived with their mother in a second-floor apartment of the two-story building, fire officials said. All the tenants in the other three apartments got out safely.

Neighbors identified the dead woman as Lisa Jones and said she attended a beauty school during the day. Her 7- and 10-year-old children were girls and the other two were boys.

“She was trying to better her life for her and her children,” said Jones’ downstairs neighbor, Criseena Lee, who escaped unharmed. Jones had lived in the building for about one year and “took care of her kids very well,” Lee said.

“The kids were sweet, very innocent,” she said. Lee’s children, ages 6 and 10, played with Jones’ kids, and they went to the pool together, she said.

The blaze was very heavy when firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after receiving the call at 4:13 a.m. The fire in the Port Richmond section was declared under control at 5:48 a.m.

Fire officials said it originated in Jones’ apartment and quickly move through the attic space and roof.

Nicholas Cotton, who lived in the other second-floor apartment with his girlfriend, Shannon Barbach, said they were awakened by banging. He went to the window and saw people outside yelling, “Fire!”

He didn’t see anything until he opened his bathroom door and saw flames from Jones’ apartment shooting through the shared bathroom wall.

Cotton’s apartment had two exits, but Jones’ had only one, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.



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