Lit cigarette ignited Upper West Side blaze that claimed senior woman’s life: FDNY

Firefighters exit from the Douglass Houses on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan on Feb. 17, 2021.
Photo by Steve Sanchez

A smoldering cigarette apparently sparked a deadly fire inside an Upper West Side public housing complex on Wednesday night that claimed the life of a 72-year-old woman, FDNY marshals reported.

Law enforcement sources said the fire broke out at about 8 p.m. on Feb. 17 inside a third-floor apartment within a building at the Douglass Houses located at 845 Columbus Ave. 

Twenty FDNY units with 78 firefighters responded to the fire. While battling the blaze, police reported, firefighters discovered the victim, unconscious and unresponsive, and pulled her out of the burning building.

The victim was examined by EMS units and pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not disclosed her identity, pending family notification.

No other injuries were reported. 

The FDNY tweeted Thursday morning that the marshals determined the fire was accidental, and caused by smoking. The home had a smoke alarm that was working and activated during the fire, the FDNY reported.

According to the Fire Department, smokers are seven times more likely to be fire victims than non-smokers. 

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