Mum's four children died in house fire she caused by burning ex-boyfriend's photos, it's alleged

A mother has been charged with starting a house fire that killed four of her children.

Bobbie Kugler, 31, is reported to have told police she was burning photographs of her ex-boyfriend and threw them onto a pile of clothes.

As the blaze tore through the two-storey, wood-framed home, in Rochester, New York, her children Gage Reavey, 14, Greg Kugler, 13, Kandee Kugler, 12, and six-year-old Kaiden Kugler slept in their beds.

Firefighters were on the scene quickly and tried to reach the children inside, but the inferno spread through the building with such speed they were unable to get to those trapped on the upper floor.

Kugler managed to flee with her two-year-old son Tyron Jackson.

"This fire is a result of human intervention. This was not an accidental fire," Fire Chief John Caufield told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Kugler was arrested on Friday and charged with fourth-degree arson and four counts of second-degree manslaughter.

At her first court appearance on Saturday, she pleaded not guilty to the charges.

She will reappear in court tomorrow.

Local residents voiced their anger at the mother.

"As a mother, how could you do that to your own kids, let alone someone else's kids?" asked Erica Evans, 43, whose son escaped the early morning fire.

Firefighters were called to the neighbourhood at 1am on February 18 to extinguish a rubbish fire on the sidewalk.

After dousing those flames, in what looked like a pile of burning clothes, firefighters did a routine canvass of the wood-frame apartment building on the property.

"The whole first floor was heavily involved with fire," Mr Caufield said.

"The initial crew that was here made entry into the building and rescued a woman and an infant from the first-floor apartment."