NEW ORLEANS — A neighbor rushed into a burning house Wednesday morning in the 2000 block of Josephine Street, rescuing eight children ranging in age from 3 to 5 years old, the New Orleans Fire Department said.

Firefighters arrived at 9:26 a.m. and sounded a second alarm at 9:38 a.m. after seeing that the fire had spread from the burning house to a two-unit apartment building in its rear on Daneel Street, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Edwin Holmes Jr.

The fire also damaged a home adjacent to the burning home, Holmes said.

Holmes did not identify the person who saved the children from the fire.

Firefighters did not know the children were inside the house and only later learned more about them and the incident after talking to them and their neighbors, Holmes said.

The children were brought into a neighbor’s house to get them out of the cold, Holmes said.

Some of the children told investigators one of the boys was playing with fire in a bedroom and set a mattress on fire, Holmes said. The fire spread to the kitchen, he said.

New Orleans police and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services were called to investigate the children’s condition, Holmes said.

Three families were displaced, Holmes said.

Firefighters had the fire under control at 9:53 a.m., Holmes said.