2009-05-29 / Front Page

Mother Dies In Carleton Manor Blaze

By Nicholas Briano

A fire at Rockaway's smallest public housing unit claimed the life of a woman and critically injured her disabled daughter, officials say.

Two firefighters make a daring rescue of two residents after a fire broke out inside Carlton Manor Wednesday morning. Photo by Christopher Kalisak.
Published reports say that Lorna Whyms, 54, was declared dead at the scene. Her disabled daughter, Erica Whyms, 18, remains in critical condition at The Weill Cornell burn center with burns to much of her torso.

The fire started at 9:45 a.m. on the tenth floor of the 11-story building located at 71- 15 Beach Channel Drive. Fire Department sources say that the blaze quickly became an "all-hands" fire, drawing 78 firefighters in more than a dozen fire companies, who took approximately 30 minutes to put out the flames.

Police sources say that Community Affairs Police Officers Maurice Roper and Kevin Campbell from the 101 Precinct were driving past the public housing complex and noticed the fire coming from the window. The two officers immediately ran up to the apartment, pulling out one of the residents trapped in the burning apartment.

Seventy-eight firefighters responded to the tenth floor apartment fire, which ignited at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Photo by Christopher Kalisak
Published reports say that the two officers also alerted other residents of the building, who "poured out of their homes" in response to the warning.

Firefighters then responded and rescued the second unidentified female, who, reports say, suffered third degree burns to her face and body.

Neighbor Fred Barnes told Channel 7 reporter Joe Torres that he believes that Whyms died saving her daughter.

"Her daughter came out first and she was burned in the mid-section," Barnes said. "[The mother] was burned from head to toe. She would never have left her daughter, and she got killed trying to save her life."

Roper and Campbell were taken to Peninsula Hospital Center, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and released.

It is still unclear what started the fire in the back bedroom of the apartment, fire department sources say. Fire marshals are investigating the incident.

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R.I.P Lorna aka 'Beanie'


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