A 71-year-old woman was found dead inside a Long Island home following a fire early morning Tuesday, Suffolk County Police said.
Colleen Jalbert was found dead inside her West Babylon home after officers responded to a fire at her home on Little East Neck Road at around 3:30 a.m.
Firefighters battled the heavy flames shooting out of the second floor of the home as thick black smoke filled the immediate area, making it difficult for first responders to look for survivors.
“I tried to run up the stairs and get upstairs but once I got to the top of the stairs it was just a cloud of black smoke," survivor Alex Arahovitis said.
Arahovitis, who lives on the lower level of the home, was awaken by his stepfather after he heard commotion upstairs, where Jalbert lived with her daughter.
“The daughter made it out and was downstairs. She fell down the stairs I guess form the smoke she couldn’t see," Arahovitis said, adding that he tried to run upstairs to help his neighbor, but the smoke was too suffocating.
"You couldn't see anything. It was horrible," he said.
Jalbert was pronounced dead at the scene after the fire was extinguished. Her 48-year-old daughter was taken to an area hospital for minor injuries.
Suffolk County Police Lt. Kevin Beyrer said Jalbert just couldn't escape the fire that apparently started in her room while she was in bed.
"The mother has some health issues," he said. "She was in bed. It appears the fire started in her room. Unfortunately, she was unable to escape."
A preliminary investigation found that the cause of the fire to be non-criminal, however, the Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad and Arson Section detectives are continuing to investigate the blaze to determine how it started.