Authorities were investigating Sunday to find what caused an apartment fire in Bushwick, Brooklyn that killed a seven-year-old boy and injured seven other people early that morning.
Fire officials say the flames started in a rear bedroom on the first floor of a three-story building on Decatur Street in Bushwick shortly before 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
It spread to the building's upper floors and cockloft and then two adjacent buildings, but firefighters were able to get the fire under control before 3 a.m.
Seven-year-old Joel Smith was found unconscious in the bedroom where the fire began and was pronounced dead at the scene.
By Sunday evening, it was not clear how the boy died.
A 34-year-old man was hospitalized with severe burns. Six others suffered minor injuries, including three other children and the young boy's mother.
Four of the victims were taken to Woodhull Medical Center, two were taken to Wyckoff Hospital and one was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Rose Sistrunk, who lives on the second floor of the burned building, said she was lucky to escape with her children unharmed.
"My kids play with them. They go to school with them," said Sistrunk. "There was a man who lived there and he was burnt. He came out here and he was burnt, he was burnt up, literally skin off his body."
Neighbors said Joel was part of a close-knit family.
"The parents are very good. I've seen them when the school bus picks them up. He makes sure he escorts them to the bus," said neighbor Eddie Rodriguez.
A man who lives on the third floor said he last saw Joel playing with some other children from the building.
"I feel very sorry for him. There's no words to express our feeling for him," said the neighbor. "It was horrible. Very black smoke covering the halls, stairs, I couldn't see. It was very horrible."
The Red Cross assisted four families displaced by the fire.