Woman killed in fast-moving fire

April 15, 2012 3:44:53 PM PDT
Investigators in Queens are trying to figure out what caused an early morning fire that killed a 63-year-old woman.

Joanne Brown was killled trying to escape the flames at around 4:40 Sunday morning on 189th street in Auburndale.

His cousin, John Rebecchi, is faced with a question that will haunt him for the rest of his life: what more could he have done to save her?

John was still in shock hours after a fire tore through his childhood home.

He was able to get out and thought Joanne was right behind.

But neighbors say she instead doubled back, headed for the kitchen to call 911.

But the smoke was too much, and she died.

Relatives from Pennsylvania came to comfort John, who woke up to find his two story home on fire.

"I heard screaming and I heard shattering and crackles," said neighbor Sandra Villafane.

"I ran outside and he was standing in the front screaming Joanne, come out, Joanne but at that point there was no coming out.

"He was a little disoriented, trying to pull himself together," said another neighbor, Angelo Dominguez. "The flames were just so intense, it was a horrific scene last night."

Neighbors say John and Joanne were more like brother and sister, rather than cousins, that Joanne moved in with John about 10 years ago, after his parents died.

"Everybody would help out and that's where Joanne would come in and go shopping, things like that and take care of him, so they kind of looked after one another," said neighbor Michael Colapietro.

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