NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A raging house fire claimed the life of a Brooklyn man early Monday morning.
The fire broke out on the second floor of a home on East 29th Street near Avenue R in Sheepshead Bay around 3 a.m. The blaze quickly spread to the top level, CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported.
“It was chaos,” neighbor Jason Fried said. “We were sleeping, and I just heard screaming and banging. I was praying nobody was in there.”
“It was horrible,” said Joan Marie Oliveri, who was worried about her next door neighbor trapped inside. “I knew that he was in there because he’s home every night.”
Once the fire was extinguished, firefighters found Shewming Seto, 66, unconscious and unresponsive in the bedroom, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“I was devastated,” said Hussin Saleh, who works at a nearby store. “He was so sweet. He lost his son years ago at a young age, and his wife died a few years ago.”
Conditions in the home created big challenges for firefighters. They described Seto as a hoarder, and all of the belongings carried the flames, Gold reported.
Fire Chief John Snow said 13 firefighters were injured because it was so tough maneuvering around all of the belongings, CBS2 reported.
The loss has left many in the neighborhood shaken.
“I saw him yesterday morning,” said Saleh. “He came to buy the paper and left.”
“Hug your loved ones and count your blessings every day that you wake up,” Fried added.
It’s possible Seto didn’t even know his home was on fire until it was too late, Gold reported.
It’s not clear if there were working smoke detectors in the home, but fire crews said they heard none upon their arrival, CBS2 reported.
“At this point, we’re still doing the investigation,” Snow said.
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