Thomas Rodriguez, a resident of Ozone Park, says he’s lucky his wife, 67-year-old Marie Rodriguez, and their dog Penny are alive after a fire tore through their apartment building Friday afternoon.
“She was ready to jump. Don’t worry, the fire department is here and they’re going to bring up a ladder. They were able to get here. She was more concerned that she couldn’t get the dog out because of the smoke,” Thomas Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez was at work while the FDNY rescued his wife and their dog from the flames. She was taken to Jamaica Hospital for smoke inhalation, but has since been released. The couple lives at the back of a building on 98th Street in Ozone Park.
He says the owner of the building and his 93-year-old mother, Kam Mei Koo, live in the adjacent apartment. Koo did not survive her injuries and died as a result of the blaze, according to police.
“She was a very nice lady. She was to herself. She was 93-years-old. She could barely make it up the steps,” Rodriguez said.
The FDNY got a call at around 1:30 p.m. and says an e-bike was discovered at the scene. On Saturday, fire marshals determined that a lithium-ion caused the fire, which the department says was accidental.
Rodriguez says the owner charged the bike near the entrance of the building by a staircase leading to the two apartments in the building.
“I left this morning for work and noticed the bike was plugged in and I said, ‘Maybe I should unplug it.’ It’s been like that a few times and no problems, nothing,” Rodriguez said. “And you know what I told myself, ‘Maybe I should call my wife and tell her to unplug it’ but I got busy at work.”
Rodriguez says the FDNY told him that his wife left the door closed as smoke made its way to the apartment, and that saved her life.
“I don’t care about none of that stuff up there,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just glad she’s okay.”