93-year-old woman killed in fire at building in Queens; charred e-bike being investigated

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, August 12, 2023
93-year-old woman killed in fire at building in Queens
A 93-year-old woman has died after a fire broke out at a mixed-use building at 98-01 101st Avenue in Queens on Friday. Josh Einiger has more on what officials are investigating as the cause.

OZONE PARK, Queens (WABC) -- A 93-year-old woman was killed after a fire broke out inside a building in Queens on Friday.

The two-alarm fire broke out on the second floor of a mixed-use building at 98-01 101st Avenue in Ozone Park around 1:40 p.m.

The 93-year-old victim, identified as Kam Mei Koo, was found unconscious and unresponsive on the second floor. She was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she later died.

Meanwhile, Marie Rodriguez returned home Friday night in disbelief after her terrifying escape from the inferno at her home.

"I was taking a nap and I heard something pop three times real loud," Rodriguez said. "Woke up, then I started choking. And when I looked to the door, I saw smoke coming in."

Surveillance video shows Rodriguez hanging out of her second-story window as the owner of the corner deli ran to help with a ladder, but it wasn't high enough.

Rodriguez gasped for air out the window. Her dog was out of reach.

"It was a horrible feeling and then knowing that I couldn't grab her," Rodriguez said. "It happened so fast. So fast."

She said she had to put half of her body out the window, hanging for dear life with one hand and her leg.

"The guys in the store were telling me to throw myself out the window, but I didn't. I was scared. I was so scared," she said.

Firefighters arrived within seconds, and as they worked to rescue Rodriguez, thick smoke and flames started shooting through the building's front door.

They helped her to safety in the deli across the street, but her 93-year-old neighbor, in a different apartment upstairs, wasn't so lucky.

The was in a room upstairs, helpless and unable to escape.

When Rodriguez returned home, she still didn't know about the flames' deadly toll, but she did have her dog Penny, who was rescued by firefighters.

Preliminarily, officials say this is likely the latest deadly fire sparked by an exploding lithium-ion battery, likely attached to an e-bike.

Investigators from the FDNY Fire Marshals Office inspected a charred bike on the sidewalk.

It belongs to the man who owns the house. His mother was the 93-year-old woman who died.

An investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of the fire.


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