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Three dead in New Haven arson fire

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed on Wednesday in a huge fire in New Haven, Connecticut that police said was deliberately set.

Eight other people, several of whom were forced to jump out of windows to save their lives, were injured in the blaze in a four-unit apartment building in the city's Fair Haven neighborhood, authorities said.

The three people who died -- Wanda Roberson, 42, her son Quayshon Roberson, 8, and her unidentified 18-year-old niece -- were trapped in bedrooms on the building's third floor, police said.

Evidence at the scene led investigators to rule the fire as arson, authorities said.

"We are considering this as a triple homicide at this point," said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

Police said they were investigating reports that a dark-colored minivan was seen speeding from the scene.

"Witnesses have told us that van was in the area, seen leaving the residence at the time of the fire," said New Haven Police Lieutenant John Velleca.

The fire was reported at about 1:30 a.m. and when firefighters arrived, the scene was chaotic, said New Haven Fire Chief Michael Grant.

"We had people on the front porch, trapped. We had people jumping out of windows," he said. "The firefighters who were on the scene performed with a lot of courage, tenacity fighting a very difficult, hostile fire."

Police had not made any arrests nor publicly identified any suspects.

(Reporting by Ted Lorson, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)

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