A short time ago, the Daily News posted to its web site the story behind an early morning fire at Masaryk Towers, 77 Columbia Street, today. It took 60 firefighters about 40 minutes to extinguish the flames. 11 people suffered minor injuries. One 97-year old woman, Wei Chee, became trapped in her apartment.
Chee’s neighbor, Wanda Camacho, helped her escape the fire. This afternoon, the elderly woman is hospitalized at New York Hospital-Weill Cornell.
More from the Daily News report:
Camacho said she wasn’t sure what woke her up, as the smoke from the fire in Chee’s apartment spread through other homes on the 10th floor of the high-rise. Still barefoot and in her pajamas, she wanted to escape the building.”When I opened my door, the smoke started pouring in. I just heard voices,” Camacho said. “I looked across and her door was open,” she said, referring to Chee’s apartment. “I think I see somebody, and it was her.” Camacho described Chee as a beautiful woman who she often saw sitting on benches outside the building. She was usually well dressed and wearing makeup. But in the horrible moment when Camacho finally saw Chee amid the smoke, her neighbor was lying down and burned over large portions of her body, including her face. “I go: ‘Come out!’ and she’s talking in Chinese,” Camacho recalled. “I don’t know what she’s saying. I grabbed her arm and she won’t move. She will not move. I felt her skin move. So then I squeeze her arm, and maybe the pain got her up.” Camacho said she dragged the elderly woman across the hall and into her apartment, placing Chee on her couch. “I put wet towels on her,” the courageous neighbor said. “She was in a lot of pain. She was breathing really heavy.”