Queens man killed after flames rip through upper floors of East Elmhurst home

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

A 57-year-old man was killed when a fire swept through the top floor of his home in Queens on Sunday afternoon, police officials said.

The man, not identified, was pulled from the burning building in very critical condition, fire officials said. He was later pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital, police officials said.

The fire started at about 2 p.m. on May 17 at 24-32 96th St. in East Elmhurst, in the top floor bedroom of the two-story wood-frame home. Firefighters arrived and found flames blowing out of the rear windows.

Lieutenant Tommy Sutton of Engine Company 316, a 24-year veteran of the FDNY, was able to get to the top floor despite heavy smoke and flames. He pulled the man to the street with help of other firefighters. Despite CPR efforts and resuscitation by EMS, he died at the hospital.

Fire officials said the home was “heavily cluttered,” making it difficult for rescuers to find the victim. The victim’s elderly mother, not identified, was able to self evacuate from the burning home.

Photo by Todd Maisel

Residents on the ground floor also self-evacuated with one of the residents attempting to help the upstairs tenants.

Ram Khadka, a neighbor of the home, said he was working in his backyard with his wife and daughter when they saw smoke.

“I saw smoke coming from windows so I started yelling to see if anyone was there and nobody responded,” Khadka said. “When nobody responded, my wife said call 911, so we called the fire department. Then all of a sudden there was so much fire.”

A woman who lives on the ground floor who didn’t want to be identified said she lived downstairs with her children at the time of the fire. She said they smelled smoke and tried to find the occupants.

“We smelled smoke, so my husband went upstairs to see if anyone was there,” she said. “There was so much smoke, I got my family out of the house and then all of a sudden, there was a lot of fire coming from the windows.”

A family that lived downstairs from the victim is now homeless. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Fire officials said there was heavy clutter on the top floor and they said it was difficult to find the victim. Heavy clutter was thrown out into the rear yard of the house, much of it books, music, DVD’s, and toy collectibles.

The cause of the fire was under investigation by fire marshals, officials said. Police said criminality is not suspected.

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell
Photo by Todd Maisel

This story first appeared on amny.com.

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