NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was a tragedy in Queens on Sunday night when a 3-year-old girl was found in a car engulfed in flames.

The girl was the passenger in the vehicle and it wasn’t immediately clear if it was purposely set on fire, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.

The incident happened in Springfield Gardens on Baisley Boulevard and 154th Street. The FDNY said the vehicle was completely on fire when firefighters responded just before 9 p.m. A propane tank and other gas canisters were found nearby.

Some 60 fire and EMS personnel responded. Witnesses described the horrific scene as the badly burnt child was pulled from the back seat. Firefighters did chest compressions on the girl, who was then rushed to Elmhurst Hospital where she died, officials said.

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Witnesses said the 39-year-old driver was on fire and ran into a pond at Baisley Park to extinguish the flames. It’s not clear if the driver and passenger were father and daughter, but sources told Rozner police are looking into whether this was a custodial interference matter.

“I’m curious to see why the gas tank there with a child in the car. It’s unfortunate the child died. It’s unfortunate. It makes me very sad because I love children,” Springfield Gardens resident Marcia Freeman said.

“I was inside and I heard a big bomb and my sister was saying it was a gunshot, or whatever,” resident Lisa Silvera added. “Then we came out and there was a lady standing there saying there was a guy on fire and he ran to the water over there and they took the baby out. The baby was badly burned and the baby went to the police car.”

Police said the driver was taken to the burn center at Weill Cornell Medical Center. He was not immediately charged and the investigation is ongoing.


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