NEW YORK (CNN) — A fire that swept through a Bronx apartment killing three young brothers was caused by a candle and occurred a day after the power company cut off electricity for unpaid bills, officials said Saturday.
“The account had a significant amount of arrears — well into the thousands of dollars,” Consolidated Edison spokesman Allan Drury told CNN. “We try to avoid turning service off to customers. We’ll put them on payment plans to work with them to avoid turnoff, but this account had substantial arrears.”
Fire marshals have determined that the fire was accidental, said FDNY spokesman Daniel Glover. “The fire was caused by a candle in the kitchen area.”
The boys — Elijah Artis, 5; Jeremiah Artis, 2; and Michael Turner, 4 months — were declared dead on arrival at Lincoln Medical Center, police said.
CNN affiliate WABC reported that their mother and two sisters — ages 4 years and 4 months — were treated for smoke inhalation.
Hospital spokeswoman Nydia Negron said the two children are in stable condition in the intensive care unit. The mother was treated and released.
Three other people suffered injuries and were taken to a hospital, the fire department said.
The fire broke out just before 8 p.m. in a six-story apartment complex on West 165th Street near Anderson Avenue, Glover told CNN. It was declared under control at about 9:30 p.m., he said.
The fire occurred half a mile from Yankee Stadium and 180 feet from 1022 Woodycrest Avenue, a four-story building that caught fire in March 2007 when a space heater cord overheated, killing 10 people, nine of them children.
At the time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it the worst fire in New York City since the Happy Land social club — also in the Bronx — went up in flames in 1990, killing 87 people.
This story was reported by Laura Ly in New York and reported and written by Tom Watkins in Atlanta
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