NY Daily News - February 01, 2019by KERRY BURKE and JOHN ANNESE
A raging house fire in Queens left a woman dead Thursday night, despite the desperate efforts of her elderly upstairs neighbor to douse the flames with a garden hose.
The fire started in the cellar of a two-story single-family home on 60th Ave. by 148th St. in Flushing at about 6 p.m., and quickly spread throughout the house.
The building was gutted.
Firefighters found the woman, identified as 47-year-old Maria Medina, dead on the first floor. Officials said she lived in the house.
Michael Pugliese, 74, who lives upstairs, escaped out the back when the fire started, then frantically screamed for the woman to come out, his relative, Ralph Gallo, told the Daily News.
The woman lived in the basement and did housekeeping for Pugliese, he said.
“There was smoke coming from the wall. I looked outside. Our neighbor was trying to put the fire out with a garden hose. It just got bigger and bigger,” said Joshua Lee, who lives in the adjoining house next door. “Me and my mom ran outside and saw the flames coming out of the basement.”
Gallo said Pugliese didn’t know how the fire began.
“He was upstairs and he went down to find her. He was yelling for her. She was in the basement cleaning up,” Gallo said. “He was screaming for her but he couldn’t get to her.”
Medics took Pugliese to Booth Memorial Hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the blaze is being investigated, FDNY Deputy Chief Division Brendan McSweeney said.
“We had heavy smoke and heavy fire in the cellar and the first floor. We had to go to the rear of the building to get into the basement,” he said. “It was difficult getting our men into the building.”
“Unfortunately we located a woman in the rear of the first floor. She was deceased at the scene.”