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Gas Leak Likely To Blame For Fire That Killed 3 In The Bronx

A firefighter stands on the roof a a building burning on Beach and Lafayette Avenues in the Bronx on Dec. 31, 2012. (credit: CBS 2)

A firefighter stands on the roof a a building burning on Beach and Lafayette Avenues in the Bronx on Dec. 31, 2012. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A gas leak was suspected to be the cause of a fast-moving fire that ripped through a Bronx apartment building early Monday, killing a man and woman in their 70s and a 12-year-old boy.

As CBS 2’s Drew Levinson reported, the fire broke out at about 5:45 a.m. and grew quickly to three alarms at 735 Beach Ave., at Lafayette Avenue, in the Soundview section of the Bronx.

1010 WINS’ Gene Michaels On The Story

A home video showed the blaze spreading through all three floors of the building. The fire was so intense it collapsed the roof, and also spread to adjoining homes.

Killed in the fire were second-floor resident Annetta Isaac, 71; and third-floor residents John Debro, 73, and Jahvonte Smith, 12.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Isaac and Debro were found on the second floor, while Smith was found in the rear of the third floor, FDNY Assistant Chief Ron Spadafora told 1010 WINS reporter Gene Michaels.

Nelson Feliz said he and Jahvonte played basketball together.

“We played full court, go to the parks together, do a lot of things together,” Feliz said. “There was not one place I went without him, because basically, he was my little brother.”

The FDNY said it was delayed getting to the scene because the original 911 caller gave the wrong address. After a second 911 call, firefighters were there within seven minutes.

Three tenants also suffered injuries, authorities said.

When firefighters arrived, they found a 48-year-old woman with a broken ankle in front of the residence. She had jumped from a second-floor window.

The woman was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, where she was reported in stable condition. A 15-year-old girl and a 73-year-old woman were also taken to Jacobi, where their conditions were also reported as stable.

Sam Lewis he helped rescue three people from the burning building before firefighters could get there.

“I went back in my apartment, took a ladder, brought it down to help the old lady. It was too late,” Lewis said. “The fire went right to the door, there’s no way for anybody to come outside or to go inside.”

Neighbors in the surrounding units were evacuated. The fire was brought under control around 7:20 a.m.

Fire officials deemed the blaze suspicious and are investigating the cause.

Neighbors described the victims as good, hard working people.

“They are a nice, tight family, very nice,” said Desherma Lang. “They never bother nobody, and they just got along with everybody.”

“I am devastated,” said Milagros Gutierrez. “I can’t even cry no more.”

The American Red Cross was helping tenants in the building and nearby who were forced to evacuate.

Investigators said they do not believe the fire is criminal at this point.

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