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Mother, three children die in house fire on N.Y.'s Long Island

By Noreen O'Donnell

(Reuters) - A mother died trying to save her three children, who also perished, when a fire engulfed their home on New York's Long Island on Friday night, authorities said on Saturday.

Two neighbors, brothers who are a volunteer firefighter and an emergency medical technician, tried to enter the burning house in the town of Shirley at about 10:15 p.m. ET, but were forced back by the smoke and heat, Suffolk County police said in a statement.

The mother, Jennifer McCusker, 41, had managed to lift one of her 2-year-old twins out of a crib in a rear bedroom and apparently was overcome while trying to reach the other twin, Detective Lieutenant Jack Fitzpatrick said.

McCusker, the twins, Ava Jane and Brendan Mistretta, and another son, 7-year-old Aidan Tarbell, were all pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said.

Suffolk County homicide and arson squad detectives are investigating. When the cause has been determined, police will know whether it is a criminal case, Fitzpatrick said.

(Reporting by Noreen O'Donnell; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Gunna Dickson)

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