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Ambulance response probed in NY City fire that killed two children

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York City fire department said on Monday it was investigating why it may have taken paramedics over 20 minutes to arrive at a house fire where two young children died over the weekend.

The blaze on Saturday night, which investigators said was sparked in the basement of the home by A child playing with fire, likely a match or a lighter, killed two 4-year-old half-siblings in New York City's borough of Queens.

Two adults and another 4-year-old child were injured, fire officials said.

Firefighters arrived on the scene five minutes after the emergency call came in but it appears an ambulance was not immediately dispatched, a spokesman for the FDNY said.

In accordance with fire department rules, an ambulance should be dispatched automatically when they respond to a fire, the spokesman said.

Investigators were looking in to reports from various sources that ambulances did not arrive for as long as 21 minutes after the 911 call, the spokesman said.

Fire department investigators were putting together a timeline and a report determining the extent and cause of the delayed response was expected to be completed soon, he said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that he was following the case.

"Obviously, I want to know all the facts. My heart goes out to the family. We need to know what happened here," he said.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; editing by G Crosse and Barbara Goldberg)

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