New York

Trapped Elderly Woman Dies, 1 Hurt After Fire Breaks Out in Brooklyn: Officials

A woman is dead after being trapped in her locked room and another woman is hurt after a blaze broke out in a Brooklyn brownstone, firefighters say.

According to the FDNY, the flames broke out just after 1 a.m. Thursday morning in the four-story building and crews worked to remove two people from the building on Pacific Street in Crown Heights.

An 81-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene and a 49-year-old woman was taken to an area hospital with burns to her hand, officials said. She is expected to recover. The flames were put out around 2 a.m., firefighters said. 

Police said there is no relationship between the two victims other than that they are neighbors. The floor that the dead woman lived on is separated into two apartments, with her daughter and boyfriend living in the other unit. Relatives said her name is Gertrude Duncan, but authorities have not confirmed her identity. 

The woman's daughter's boyfriend, Preston Godfrey, told NBC 4 New York that the woman was trapped inside her locked room because her daughter had the key. Godfrey said in the rush to get outside, she wasn't able to go back inside with the key to unlock the door to save her mother.

One man who lived on the fourth floor had to climb down a wire just to get himself to safety. 

"I couldn't wait on the fireman," Eric Burk said. "I saw the cable wire and just took my time and came down."

Neighbors said the woman has lived in the building for decades and was very well known. 

One witness described seeing a smokey scene. 

"I heard somebody screaming out here," Suzanne Mattiello of Crown Heights said. "I came down and I could smell smoke. I came out the front door and I could tell the building was on fire."

Video from the scene shows a partially blackened building with police tape around it. 

The building is completely gutted. 

A medical examiner will determine the cause of death. 

It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the blaze, but an investigation is underway.

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