A woman who burned as she plunged to her death was among seven people killed Friday when fire swept through a four-story apartment building. A man who later admitted to setting the blaze watched the fire.
"To the best of our knowledge, all of the victims are accounted for," said Assistant State Fire Marshal Paul Gill after firefighters recovered six bodies from the building which housed a bar-restaurant and eight apartments.James A. Stuckey, 23, was charged with murder after police said he confessed to starting the early-morning fire. Stuckey told police he had been depressed "for quite some time."
Firefighters had the blaze under control within a few hours, but a flare-up and the collapse of part of the roof and the fourth floor hampered the search for bodies.
"It's terrible, I feel sorry for the people who were inside," said Vincent Tropea, whose mother owns the 85-year-old building, which also was heavily damaged in a 1983 fire.
"I've been crying all morning," Tropea said. "There's a fire escape, I guess they just couldn't make it over there."
Paulita S. Ilagan, 35, fell or jumped to her death from a second-story window, Gill said.
Police officers at the scene said they saw Ilagan standing in the window and told her to jump. She hesitated, the fire suddenly engulfed her, and she then plunged from the window aflame, they said.