NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Authorities are investigating whether a fire that killed two people and injured 10 others at an apartment building in Brooklyn was deliberately set.

A crime scene truck pulled up in front of the building on Thursday afternoon, and detectives have been in and out trying to figure out how the fire started.

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Sources tell CBS2 they are looking into whether an accelerant may have been used to start the two-alarm blaze at the three-story walk-up at 6709 11th Ave. in Dyker Heights.

More than 100 firefighters quickly responded to the scene after the blaze broke out just before 7 a.m. Thursday.

“We were on the scene in under three minutes,” FDNY Chief James Leonard said. “We found a heavy fire condition throughout the building. It spread rapidly from the first floor up throughout the building.”

Witnesses said residents were yelling for help as they desperately tried to get to safety.

“I heard them screaming,” neighbor Gin Fiumefreddo said. “I thought they were fighting but they were obviously in terror trying to get out.”

Witnesses described heavy smoke billowing out of the building as residents made their way out of their back windows and onto fire escapes, 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman reported.

Resident Karen Hernandez had no idea there was a fire in her building until her sister went to open the door.

“She noticed that the door handle was hot,” Hernandez said. “My mom opened the door and she saw that there were flames, smoke.”

Hernandez grabbed her kitten and got out through the fire escape with her family.

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The two people who died were grandparents, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported. The 58-year-old man and 56-year-old woman were found unconscious and unresponsive in a third-floor apartment when the fire was extinguished about an hour later.

They were pronounced dead at the scene.

The couple’s family members, including a 3-month-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, were taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation.

Three firefighters also suffered minor injuries.

About five apartments in the building have been gutted.

The American Red Cross helping is assisting those who have been displaced.

Fire officials said there were no working smoke detectors in the building, Liebman reported.

The Fire Marshal and NYPD Arson and Explosion Square are working to determine the cause of the fire.

As CBS2’s Roy reported a K9 unit was canvassing the building as the NYPD arson squad was searching for evidence.

Detectives had also blocked off a nearby car, and witnesses spotted them removing items.


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The names of the victims have not been released.