NY Daily News - February 10, 2018by ADAM SHRIER, THOMAS TRACY
A fire likely sparked by a hot plate tore through a Queens apartment and killed the woman living there illegally, authorities and sources said Friday.
Firefighters found Ines Parra, 48, unconscious in her second-floor apartment on 102nd St. near Jamaica Ave. in Woodhaven after the fire broke out around 11 p.m. Thursday.
Medics rushed her to Jamaica Hospital, but she could not be saved.
Neighbors heard Parra calling out to a friend before she perished.
“I heard Ines screaming ‘Bori! Bori!’ last night,” said Frances Garcia. Bori is a local homeless woman who helps residents in exchange for a meal, said Garcia, 36, whose sister used to live in Parra’s building.
“I got out the shower and looked out my window and smelled fire but couldn’t see it,” Garcia recalled. “I saw the fire department setting up, and I’m yelling because I thought it could be the place my sister used to live.”
About 65 firefighters were called in to douse the blaze, which was placed under control at 11:30 p.m. Nobody else was hurt.
Fire Marshals are still investigating, but a source said the fire was sparked by a hot plate.
On the morning of the fire, Parra and her husband, a deliveryman for a local restaurant, were in Queens Housing Court fighting an eviction proceeding against them, according to their landlord.
The two were cordial as they represented themselves before the judge and agreed to come back to court on March 22 for another hearing.
Landlord Mohammed Islam, the president of the Muslim Community Center of Richmond Hill, purchased the building in October and was in the process of removing any tenants who refused to get new rental agreements.
“Since then we've moved out three of the five tenants,” he said. Parra and her husband were the last two holdouts. “Only the lady and her husband refused to move out even though we offered them compensation and to pay for moving costs.
“It's very unfortunate and I feel very sorry for her,” Islam added.
Parra didn’t work and was regularly seen on the street, drunk and looking for a handout, area residents said.
“I used to see her every day,” said Gilbert Plunkett, 29. “She barely spoke English but I would lend her a couple dollars to buy cigarettes sometimes.”
Garcia’s sister Xiomara Asencio, 25, said when she lived in the 102nd St. building two years ago, the entire building was subdivided into smaller units. Parra and her husband lived in abject poverty, she said.
“They lived in a room with a bathroom — that's it,” Asencio said. “I asked, ‘So Ines, how do you wash your dishes?’ and she told me they used to wash it in a toilet bowl.”
“She had survival skills,” she said.