Queens Woman, 51, Killed by Blaze in Her High-Rise Apartment

NY Daily News - January 14, 2019

by TREVOR KAPP and ESHA RAY

A 51-year-old woman was fatally injured in a raging fire that tore through her Queens apartment, police said Sunday.

The blaze started on the fifth floor of a high-rise on 62nd Ave. near Austin St. in Rego Park about 11:40 p.m. on Saturday, authorities said. Anna Latek died of smoke inhalation.

"I was in my apartment and just heard a big, heavy bang — boom!” said Joe Perez, 57, who lives on the seventh floor. “Then smoke started coming through the vents. . . . I looked out and saw there was heavy smoke from the outside pouring up the front of the building.”

Kim Flores, 28, who lives on 11th floor and is six months pregnant, woke her mom up after hearing alarms.

“I could smell the burning,” Flores said. “I said, 'I think we need to go to the balcony because I can't breathe.' We went there and all the people were standing on the balconies outside the building."

Firefighters rushed Latek out of her apartment on the fifth floor, but she died at Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said.

“I saw her on a stretcher. She had on a black dress,” said Steffanie Godor, 29, who lives on the 11th floor. “They were giving her oxygen. I didn't see her moving.” The blaze also killed a cat in Latek’s apartment.

"People on the fifth floor were screaming, 'We're here! Help! Help!' ” Godor said. “The firefighters said, 'Don't move! Just stay in your apartment.’ ”

Three additional residents were hurt in the blaze. They were in stable condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Queens, police said.

Neighbors said Latek lived by herself.

“She was pretty much by herself. She really loved my dog. Many times she asked if she could take care of him,” Godor said. "I saw her two days ago. Every time we'd cross paths, we'd say hi.”

"She had a good heart," Godor added. "It's a terrible morning.”

Fire marshals were investigating what sparked the deadly blaze.