FDNY: Cause of Fatal Fire Under Investigation as Authorities Devise Plan to Safely Enter Building

SILive - March 09, 2017

by Paul Liotta

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The cause of a Great Kills fire that killed an 83-year-old woman Monday is still under investigation, a spokesman for the FDNY said Tuesday.

Fire marshals are working with city officials to devise a plan so they can safely enter the Driggs Street building that was left with its structural integrity in question after the blaze that began at approximately 4:01 a.m., the spokesman said.

Focus is currently on a space heater that the victim, Carolyn Samuel, kept in the home.

Nine firefighters suffered minor injuries, according to a spokesman for the FDNY/EMS.

"Due to volume of fire and limited access on the street, it was a challenging situation," said FDNY Deputy Chief Brian Gorman.

Firefighters could only enter the house through the front door and the entryway was blocked with three to five feet of debris, he said.

Monday's fire was brought under control at approximately 7 a.m., according to a FDNY spokesman.

Neighbors described Samuel as kind and independent.

"She was a very sweet woman and very talkative," neighbor Joy Giovannone said. "What happened this morning is very tragic."

This is the second fatal fire in the borough in 2017. John Russell, 69, was killed in a Port Richmond blaze on Feb. 9.

The total number of fatalities for 2016 was two. John Quattrocchi of Westerleigh, 57, was fatally injured on Jan. 16, while Bruno Mauer, 95, died Jan. 21. There were no other fatalities the rest of the year.