Deadly fire in Queens

November 16, 2009 3:38:21 PM PST
One man was killed and three others injured in a smoky house fire in the Springfield Gardens section of Queens. The fire broke out at the Zoller Road home just after 6:30 a.m.

The fatality was identified as 75-year-old Nathaniel LaGree. Authorities say he had gotten out of the burning home and gotten his family out, but went back inside for keepsakes and his cell phone to call 911.

Investigators believe he got trapped by the flames and, by the time he was pulled out by firefighters, was in cardiac arrest. He was rushed the hospital, where he was declared dead.

The fire is not suspicious and was reportedly caused by an electrical short in the basement ceiling.

"I've known Mr. Lagree for my whole life, 27 years," neighbor Bryant Lattimer said. "He was like a second father to me on the block."

Lattimer ran into the burning home to help get the victims out.

"Right now my mind is blank, so that's it," sister Ruth said. "Right now, I can't think."

LaGree's wife and daughter remain in the hospital.