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LOWELL, Mass. (CBS/AP) -- Authorities said seven people were dead after an early morning fire in a apartment building in Lowell.

Several people were taken to the hospital, but an exact figure was unavailable.

The three-alarm blaze was reported at about 3:30 a.m. The building was already engulfed in heavy flames when firefighters arrived.

Witnesses told CBS Station WBZ that people were tossing babies out of second-floor windows in an effort to get them to safety.

Deputy Fire Chief Patrick McCabe said 48 people lived in the building, which had businesses on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors.

A fast-moving fire rips through an apartment building in Lowell, Massachusetts killing seven people and forcing others to jump to safety. Linda So reports.

At a morning press conference, a city official called the blaze "horrific." State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan confirmed that the fatalities were found in two apartment units on the building's top floor.

Lowell resident Rothe Proeung received a call at 4 a.m. about the fire. He told WBZ his two children were sleeping at their mother's apartment in the building. "At the time I was thinking about my kids. Where are my kids? Are they dead? Are they alive?"

Proeung said he found his two children outside the building. Both had suffered injuries but are expected to be OK. They were among those taken to area hospitals.

Coan said the fire's cause remains under investigation. Officials noted that witnesses reported a sound like fireworks, but said no conclusions could be drawn.

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