Grandmother dies in Jamaica, Queens, house fire

February 2, 2012 3:17:02 PM PST
A deadly fire in Queens and a failed rescue attempt devastated a family overnight Thursday.

The midnight fire tore through the top floor of a home at 129th Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard in South Jamaica.

11-year-old Leah Perry cried all day Thursday.

She's a heartbroken young girl who lost her grandmother.

"We're in shock, we're still in shock, we're still in shock," said Sharon Spencer Smith, the victim's daughter.

Sharon Spencer Smith says she and her husband were in a downstairs apartment with Leah.

They had no idea the second floor was on fire.

It was a neighbor who alerted them by banging frantically on the front door.

Sharon's mother was killed in the suffocating smoke.

69-year-old Elaine Spencer was a retired bookkeeper.

The home has no history of building code violations.

And fire officials tell Eyewitness News that the second floor and the stairway leading up to it had smoke detectors.

But, the smoke detectors had no batteries which could have made a life-or-death difference.

Fire marshals are now trying to see how the fire got started.

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