Elderly woman in critical condition following ‘hoarder’ fire

Paramedics rush an elderly woman to Coney Island hospital after firefighters pulled her from a fire that raged on the the second floor of a McDonald Avenue residential building on Thursday.
Photo by Paul Martinka

A blistering fire ripped through a McDonald Avenue home in Gravesend on Feb. 23, leaving an elderly woman with life-threatening injuries — and hoarding may be to blame.

The all-hands blaze erupted shortly after 12:30 pm on the second floor of the building between 86th Street and Avenue W.

But firefighters couldn’t get inside: an FDNY spokesman said responding units had to create a path between heaping piles of clutter to get at the elderly woman trapped inside. The building, they said, had ‘Collyer’s Mansion’ traits — a reference to the infamous Collyer brothers, notorious hoarders who were found dead inside their Harlem brownstone in 1947 amid 130 tons of newspapers, magazines, books and furniture they had squirrelled away throughout their lives.

It took some time for firefighters to find and remove the elderly woman out of the burning building. They performed CPR on her in front of dozens of neighbors and rushed her to Coney Island Hospital, where she was listed in serious condition by Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters put the fire out within a half hour. No other injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation by Thursday evening.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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