NEW YORK DAILY NEWS – Two people were killed early Saturday when separate fires raged through two houses in the Bronx early Saturday — the blazes less than three blocks apart, witnesses and fire officials said.
The deadly pre-dawn tragedies left four others hospitalized and neighbors and friends reeling with grief.
The earlier blaze started around 3:15 a.m. in the basement apartment that 64-year-old Claudia Bretney shared with her boyfriend on Beach Ave. near McGraw Ave. in Parkchester, officials and witnesses said.
The fire appears to have been sparked by a space heater, sources said.The apartment had no working smoke alarms, the FDNY said.
The fast-burning flames quickly spread throughout the house and Bretney was trapped by the smoke and fire.
The popular St. Lucia native moved to the area with her boyfriend about five years ago from Florida. She was known for her cookouts and church outings, friends told the Daily News.
“She was a great person,” said Augustus Evans, 49. “ I knew her since I was a little kid.”
Bretney and Evans both hailed from the tiny town of Monchy in the hills of St. Lucia.
It took firefighters almost an hour to bring the blaze under control, officials said. Bretney was taken to Jacobi Medical Center where she died.