“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling."
-Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY circa 1910
FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigations announced Thursday that the fatal East Elmhurst fire that claimed the lives of 3 people, including a 6-year-old girl & her great-grandfather, & left 2 other members of their family clinging to life, was a work of an arson after "ignitable liquid was used as an accelerant."
Firefighters were called just after 4pm Wednesday to a fire burning in a two-story home on 93rd Street in East Elmhurst, said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. Responders were at the scene just minutes later & found two people had escaped the flames. They were rushed to the hospital in extremely critical condition, Nigro said.
3 people were still inside the house as the fire raged. Firefighters battled to put out the inferno & located the 3 inside.
A 6-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene, said Nigro. She was visiting from the Dominican Republic with her mother & baby brother, a source familiar with the investigation said.
2 adults later died at the hospital, 1 of whom was the girl's 70-year-old grandfather who lived at the house.
The girl's 10-month-old brother & her mother remain in extremely critical condition. The child has burns to 98% of his body, while his mother has burns on 80% of her body.
A source close to the investigation said Wednesday the fire is believed to have been started by a 23-year-old guest who did not live there, but was allowed to stay at the home by the owner, who was not hurt. The man was acting erratically earlier on Wednesday, a source heard from people at the address, & poured gasoline on the floor before lighting the place on fire.
The homeowner later expressed great regret at letting him stay with them after he got out of the hospital.
"We tried to help people but don’t help anyone. We tried help this kid. This kid asked me for help ... he was in the hospital & asked if he could stay in my house. He burned the house down when I asked him to leave," the homeowner said.