Photo by Mark Hallum
A fire claimed the life of a 60-year-old woman in Bayside Hills Sunday morning.
By Mark Hallum

A blaze in a Bayside Hills home ended with the death of a woman who family said was in recovery from cancer before the attached dwelling went up in flames.

The fire, which started around 11:19 a.m. on Sunday, started in the upstairs storage room of the house, according to family, and proceeded to torch the rest of the second floor as well as part of the neighboring attached house before it was quelled by firefighters, two of whom were injured, according to the FDNY.

Jose De Jesus said he remembers his cousin, Rita Rolon, 60, as someone in the family with a positive demeanor.

“She was a very friendly person, very outgoing,” De Jesus said. “She was always laughing… We didn’t think she was going to go like this. Maybe cancer, but not like this.”

De Jesus flew in from Florida to help Rolon’s husband clean up the wreckage of their home, and said the majority of the damage was in the room where the fire started, but had spread to the next rooms on that floor.

Family friend Bobby Lopez said he had lived in the home for some time and was told by FDNY an electrical malfunction was the cause, although the fire department could not confirm that at this time.

What was not scorched on the ground floor had water damage from when the FNDY was containing the fire, De Jesus said.

The FDNY said over 60 firefighters responded to the scene and had the fire under control by about 12:16 p.m.

Rolon was transported to North Shore-LIJ where she was pronounced dead.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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