The siblings' mother and 6-year-old brother were able to escape from the home on Wednesday night

By Rachel DeSantis
February 11, 2021 01:03 PM

Two young siblings were killed in New Jersey on Wednesday after a fast-moving fire tore through their home, authorities said.

An 11-year-old girl and her 8-month-old brother died in the blaze in Jersey City, which broke out around 11:30 p.m., Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said in a statement.

The children's mother and 6-year-old brother were able to escape the home on Martin Luther King Drive before firefighters got to the scene.

"Upon arrival, firefighters encountered a working fire with heavy fire and smoke conditions that was confined to a single apartment," the statement said. "Firefighters gained access to the apartment and located two children, an 11-year-old girl and an 8-month-old boy."

The girl was pronounced dead at the scene, while the boy was transported to a local hospital and died less than an hour later, the statement said.

She was apparently attempting to save her younger brother from the blaze, Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione, who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, told the Jersey Journal.

Neighbor Randy Williams told WCBS that the fire happened quickly, and before long had consumed the entire home.

"The whole house was on fire, the whole house was burning," Williams said. "I mean, bad flames… It was crazy. I came outside with no clothes on, I had to get dressed outside. I'm just shocked, I'm sending prayers out."

According to the outlet, three first responders were treated for smoke inhalation.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop expressed condolences on social media, and said he would keep the community updated with ways to help the grieving family.

"As soon as we get info from family members on how people can help we will share," he wrote. "This is absolutely so heartbreaking."

The fire was put under control within about half an hour, and its origin and cause are still under investigation by the Hudson County Regional Arson Task and the Jersey City Fire Department, the statement said.