Source: House Guest Intentionally Set Fatal Fire At Queens Home

July 11, 2019 - 12:28 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Investigators believe a house guest killed in a Queens fire intentionally set the blaze that also claimed the lives of a 6-year-old girl and her great grandfather.

A source tells WCBS 880’s Sean Adams the 23-year-old man doused the kitchen with a flammable liquid following a dispute at the home on 93rd Street in East Elmhurst on Wednesday afternoon.

The man was apparently in distress after being asked to leave the home.

On Thursday, the homeowner returned to the scene of the fire to retrieve what she could, weeping as she sifted through the charred rubble.

“When they asked him to leave, set the house on fire and set everybody in the house on fire,” said a family friend. “She trying to help someone and that’s what she gets repaid with.”

Neighbor Japhet Zayas says the homeowner had taken in the young man as a favor after he got out of a hospital.

"I suppose it has to be mental illness because I can get mad at somebody and not do something crazy like that," Zayas said. "They said that the day before he was acting erratically and weirdly."

The homeowner’s 35-year-old sister and a 10-month-old baby escaped with severe burns. According to the family friend, the woman’s body was 90% burned and the infant was 80% burned.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro thought the fire was unusual and suspicious for the time of day.

“It’s quite unusual at that time in the afternoon to have a fire trap five occupants in a private dwelling,” Nigro said.

Nigro adds that while a smoke alarm was present in the home, the first 911 call came from a resident who lived in a first-floor apartment.

About 100 firefighters swarmed the area to pull the residents from the rear of the home.  It took about 90 minutes for firefighters to bring the blaze under control.

A source says two dogs detected the odor of an accelerant in the kitchen.