Arson suspected in fatal NYC blaze

June 17, 2008 12:30:48 PM PDT
Fire investigators suspect arson in a blaze that tore through a three-story building this week, killing three people including a makeup artist who worked on the Oscar-nominated film "Maria Full of Grace." At least five other people were hospitalized and six firefighters suffered minor injuries in the Sunday morning fire that sent building occupants leaping from windows with hair and clothes ablaze.

Flor Sandoval, 48, a native of Bogota, Colombia, who worked on the 2004 Colombian film, died at a hospital along with her son, Felipe Garcia, 20. Her husband, Heriberto Garcia, 68, died at the scene. Another son, Daniel Garcia, survived.

The critically acclaimed film tells the story of a young Colombian woman's journey to New York as a drug mule. Sandoval worked on many other Spanish-language television shows and films.

"We remember her fondly, especially for her kindness and generosity, and are deeply saddened by her tragic death," said Paul Mezey, producer of "Maria Full of Grace."

The blaze remains under investigation, with the deaths now classified as homicides, said Assistant Chief Fire Marshal William Law.

Investigators hope to interview William Salazar and Agnes Bermudez, who survived the fire after fleeing their apartment to the delicatessen on the ground floor. The owner doused their burning bodies with water and they were hospitalized in critical condition.