Children playing with matches sparked massive Staten Island fire: officials

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ST. GEORGE, Staten Island -- Children playing with matches caused the Staten Island house fire that damaged seven homes, injured 21 people and left dozens of residents displaced, officials concluded Friday morning.

The fire started Thursday afternoon at 228 Benziger Ave. in the St. George area of Staten Island just after 6 p.m., which quickly spread to several neighboring homes.

FDNY officials say children on the second floor of the home were playing with matches, which triggered the fire.

Two civilians were injured in the fire and 19 firefighters suffered from heat exhaustion, FDNY Chief James Leonard said in a press conference. Two of the houses are completely gone and a third house is in danger of collapsing, Leonard added.

The power is out to dozens of homes in the neighborhood and Red Cross assisted more than 50 people - including 20 children. Ten families were in need of emergency housing.

PIX11's Shirley Chan contributed to this report.