Loretta Wood, a 55-year-old healthcare worker, was found in her second story bedroom on Monday morning after her family’s three-story home on Hamilton Avenue was engulfed in flames.
It was the first fatal fire in New Rochelle since April 2008.
The fire may have been more tragic if not for the heroic acts of Wood’s son, Greg, who was able to rescue his grandfather and escape the third story by way of the roof.
According to Greg, he had been watching television shortly before midnight, when he saw smoke wafting in his room. Upon opening the door, he said he couldn’t see through the smoke to turn on a light. He subsequently woke up his grandfather, tore the air conditioning unit from the wall to the bed and proceeded to lead them to the roof.
The two would suffer injuries during their escape when the ceiling collapsed and the two landed on the second floor.
“There was too much smoke, so I knew we had to escape through the window,” he said. “We actually fell from the third to second story, and climbed down the tree closest to the house to police.”
Both would be treated by responding ambulance personnel and taken to a nearby hospital. Greg suffered burn wounds on his hands, arms and feet and was heavily bandaged on Monday.
“It’s just like an unbelievable nightmare,” he added.
Nearly 12 hours after the fire sparked, police and fire personnel remained at the scene, helping volunteers with Habitat for Humanity salvage items from the home. Moving forward, Habitat CEO Jim Killoran said that the family will be transported to their headquarters, where they will begin to pick up the pieces and find temporary housing.
“It’s a real tragedy, the Wood family is a great family,” he said. “This is a tragedy for all of New Rochelle, we’ve become desensitized to these things in a way, but any life lost is a tragedy for the entire community.”
Click here to follow Daily Voice New Rochelle and receive free news updates.