Jennifer Millman

22-Year-Old Woman Allegedly Angry About Hallway Trash Admits to Setting Fire That Killed 2, Hurt 10 in Brooklyn: Sources

A man and woman in their 50s died in the blaze; nearly a dozen other people, including babies, were injured

What to Know

  • The fire broke out around 7 a.m. Thursday at a multi-story residential building in Brooklyn's Dyker Heights
  • Two people -- a man and a woman in their 50s -- died in the blaze; nearly a dozen other people, including babies, were injured
  • Law enforcement sources say a 22-year-old woman confessed to starting the fire because she was mad about the volume of trash in the hallway

The 22-year-old woman who allegedly admitted to intentionally setting the fire that devoured a multi-story building in Brooklyn, killing two people and injuring nearly a dozen others, told investigators she was mad about trash left in the hallway, law enforcement sources familiar with the probe told News 4.

The woman, identified as Joanna Mei, has been arrested on murder and arson charges, police said. It wasn't immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

Mei is a tenant in the now-gutted 11th Avenue apartment in Dyker Heights and was at the scene as emergency crews converged en masse to battle the blaze Thursday morning. Law enforcement sources told News 4 Friday that an NYPD dog indicated she had some kind of accelerant on her. The woman allegedly made the admissions to investigators who confronted her about it.

Sources said Mei confessed to starting the fire, angry over the amount of trash in the hallway, and they said she said she tried to put it out but couldn't.

The fire killed a 56-year-old woman, Feng Xu, and a 58-year-old man, Xi Huang; their bodies were found in a third-floor apartment. Footage from Chopper 4 showed bright orange flames leaping from what appeared to be that apartment early Thursday. Flames also filled the windows of the apartment. Thick black smoke spewed from the structure as emergency vehicles crowded the scene.

A girl who escaped the flames with her younger sister, mother and father said her sister woke up as smoke filled the living room. The family tried going out the front door, but the door knob was hot, she said. They have a ground-floor apartment and managed to escape through a back window.

The names of the man and woman who died haven't been released. The injured included seven civilians and three firefighters. Some were treated at the scene. A 4-month-old girl, a 3-month-old boy, a 30-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man were taken to a hospital with smoke inhalation. 

Officials said there were no working smoke detectors in the home.

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