Elderly Woman Dies in Lower East Side Fire

72-year-old was using her stove to keep warm

By Pei Sze Cheng and Alice McQuillan
|  Friday, Jan 7, 2011  |  Updated 5:15 PM EDT
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Elderly Woman Dies in Lower East Side Fire

NBCNewYork

File photo: FDNY

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A 72-year-old woman using the stove to keep warm in her Lower East Side apartment died when her clothing went up in flames, the fire department said Friday.

The one alarm blaze killed Claudette Rivera, who lived alone at 124 Ludlow Street, and injured a neighbor who heard her screams and tried to save her, officials said.

Rivera had accidentally set herself on fire when she leaned across the oven after turning up the burners, sources said.

The injured neighbor suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation and was taken to New York Hospital's Cornell Burn Center, said the FDNY.

The one alarm blaze in the second story apartment was under control by 11:43 a.m., about a half hour after firefighters were first called, the FDNY said.  It's unclear if Rivera had no heat at all or was using the stove to make her apartment warmer, source said.

Tenants have not made any heat related complaints to the city in the past year -- just one complaint about bed bugs, said the office of Housing Preservation and Development.  The six-story building also had no open violations, said the agency.  The last boiler violation was about a decade ago and the building passed a boiler inspection in October, according to the Department of Buildings' website.

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