1 Dead, Others Hurt in Multi-Alarm Queens Fire, FDNY Says

WNBC 4 - July 11, 2019

by Checkey Beckford

Three people died, including a 6-year-old girl and her great-grandfather, and two other members of their family are clinging to life after a fire broke out at a Queens home — which may have been the result of arson, according to a source.

Firefighters were called just after 4 p.m. Wednesday to a fire burning in a two-story home on 93rd Street in East Elmhurst, said NYPD Chief Daniel Nigro. Responders were at the scene just minutes later, and found two people had escaped the flames. They were rushed to the hospital in extremely critical condition, Nigro said.

Three people were still inside the house as the fire raged. Firefighters battled to put out the inferno, and located the three inside.

A 6-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene, said Nigro. She was visiting from the Dominican Republic with her mother and baby brother, a source familiar with the investigation said.

Two adults later died at the hospital, one of whom was the girl's 70-year-old great-grandfather who lived at the house, a source told News 4. The girl's 10-month-old brother and her mother remain in extremely critical condition. The child has burns to 98 percent of his body, while his mother has burns on 80 percent of her body.

A source close to the investigation says the fire is believed to have been started by a 23-year-old guest who did not live there, but was allowed to stay at the home by the owner, who was not hurt. The man was acting erratically earlier on Wednesday, a source heard from people at the address, and poured gasoline on the floor before lighting the place on fire.

The house guest died in the fire. The homeowner later expressed great regret at letting him stay with them after he got out of the hospital.

"We tried to help people but don’t help anyone. We tried help this kid. This kid asked me for help ... he was in the hospital and asked if he could stay in my house. He burned the house down when I asked him to leave," the homeowner said.

The FDNY says 25 units and more than 100 firefighters and EMTs were at the scene. The department has not yet officially ruled on what started the fire.