The man who started the fire told firefighters he was going to kill himself, officials said.

Bronx Fire Leaves Four Dead, Including Three Children, Officials Say

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

In this Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2018 photo, the body of a person lies in a wooded area next to the home of a burning home in the Bronx borough of New York. Firefighters were called Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2018, to a house fire in the Bronx in which three children died. The man who started the blaze told firefighters that he was going to kill himself, officials said. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

NEW YORK (AP) — Officials say a man who was being sought by police “may have killed” at least four people including three kids in a fire at a Bronx house that investigators believe he started by setting fire to his sleeping pills and gasoline.

The fire erupted Monday afternoon inside a three-story rowhouse in the Bronx borough of Queens. The mother of eight, parents and grandparents of three were home at the time of the blaze, which officials believe was started by a cigarette and gasoline.


The father of the children, 31-year-old William D. Thomas Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene. Six other people were hospitalized, including two who were in critical condition. Among them was a 3-year-old boy. His 12-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister were also badly burned in what has been ruled accidental.

In the wake of the blaze, investigators are focusing on a history of mental illness for the father. He reportedly suffered from severe depression, said police.

As investigators dug deeper into his life, police found the dead man’s passport, cellphone and a rifle in garbage bags in the basement. Neighbors told reporters that his girlfriend told them he was getting a gun and was planning to kill himself.

“It’s apparent that we have a man that was living with a very dangerous combination of multiple kinds of drugs and mental illness,” said New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “He had a loaded rifle and had a handgun on him. We don’t know if

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