Elderly woman killed in Crown Heights apartment fire

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Lucy Yang has the details on the fire in Crown Heights that killed one woman.

As flames tore through a front of a Crown Heights apartment building

An elderly woman has died after flames ripped through an apartment building in Brooklyn.

"It hurts. My mother's gone," said Barbara Wilson, the victim's daughter.

Having to verbalize the harsh and painful loss was just too much for Barbara who lost her sweet mother early Thursday morning.

"Lord have mercy. She burned up," Barbara said.

1:30 a.m. Thursday, flames broke out in the Crown Heights brownstone on the 1300 block of Pacific Street.

One elderly woman asleep in the first floor front bedroom never woke up.

81-year-old Gertrude Duncan was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her daughter Barbara lived in the back bedroom. She and neighbors tried to move heaven and earth to rescue the trapped mother, but the flames would not allow such mercy.

"I tried just to go in the backyard, break the door down and see if my neighbors, if they are okay," said Mher Janian, a witness.

"I try to fight him back for go inside. 'Mister, I want to help my mother, man. I want help her,'" Barbara said.

One tenant suffered second degree burns to her hands, but she is expected to survive. Others escaped with barely their clothes.

"I grabbed my pants and I ran down stairs, then I put my pants out, so everything left inside there," said Preston Godfrey, a victim.

Ms. Duncan, from Jamaica, she had seven children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren and a grateful heart.

"Every day she said to me, 'Thank you, my daughter. Thank you. Thank you.' Every time I did anything for her. She said, 'Thank you for dinner. Thank you for breakfast. Thank you for lunch.' She always thank me," Barbara said.

"It's just horrible, sad, it's just so upsetting, she's a just a sweet elderly lady and I just feel so bad that this happened to her," said Suzanne Mattiello, a witness. "She used to sit outside, you would see her every time, and say, 'Hi mama,' she said, 'It's good to see you,' she's so sweet."
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firefatal firedeadly fireapartment firebuilding fireCrown HeightsNew York City
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