Two young girls died in a fire at a Gretna home early Sunday, according to state and local fire officials who were on the scene.

The blaze in the 2300 block of Lafayette Street killed 8-year-old twin girls after it erupted about 1:30 a.m., according to Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Brant Thompson.

He said the twin girls, along with their first cousins, were being cared for by their grandmother when the fire broke out.

The other young children, ages 4 and 5, were able to escape the blaze unharmed with the help of the grandmother, Thompson said.

"Unfortunately, and tragically, the grandmother was unable to rescue the 8-year-old twins," he said.

The parents were away when the blaze started but returned while the fire was still active. The father was among many, including neighbors, who attempted to enter the house and save the girls, but without success, Thompson said.

"There was a lot going on, obviously," he said. "A number of individuals did what they could to try to gain access to the youngsters that were left behind."

The twins' home was one of two that caught fire from the blaze, Thompson said, adding that both houses were "heavily damaged, if not destroyed." Everyone in the second home was able to escape unharmed, he said.

According to WWL-TV, neighbors said the twin girls were visually impaired.

Mike Labruzza, fire chief for Gretna's David Crockett Steam Fire Co. No. 1, said firefighters got a call about the fire at 1:31 a.m. The first truck arrived in three minutes, he said, but the initial duplex was already "heavily involved in fire."

The fire then jumped to the duplex next door, Labruzza added. 

Altogether, he said, 29 firefighters were on the scene Sunday morning, after the Gretna fire company requested assistance from fire departments in Harvey, Terrytown, Westwego, Nine Mile Point and Avondale.

Authorities said the fire originated in the kitchen of the twins' home. While the cause is still under investigation, Thompson said investigators suspect a faulty electrical component might have caused it.

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