Elderly Couple Dead In Fire At Ritzy Manhattan High-Rise

January 12, 2019 - 11:53 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A ferocious fire at a luxury high-rise apartment building in East Midtown killed an elderly man and woman early Saturday, officials say.

The victims are a husband and wife in their 80s who lived in a ninth-floor apartment of the 27-story building at 435 East 52 St., aptly named the River House, with its view of the East River.

Firefighters rushed to the scene around 5:20 a.m. They were met by flames pouring from the windows of the apartment nine floors up.

“It was a very difficult operation. They operated in high heat, zero visibility. And it was a very large apartment with a complex layout,” FDNY Deputy Chief James Coyne said, adding that the residence had 10 to 12 rooms.

Coyne said wind coming in through the broken windows fanned the flames. 

Responding firefighters discovered an 85-year-old woman unconscious and with severe burns. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her 89-year-old husband was also pulled from the apartment. He was taken to Cornell Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The couple were later identified as Mary and John Merow.

Several firefighters were also reportedly injured. 

Fire officials said no other units were affected by the fire, but some residents who lived above the scene had to be evacuated.

The fire marshal is investigating to determine the cause of the blaze.  

The River House has been home to such notable residents as Henry Kissinger and Uma Thurman.