NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A woman has been charged with two counts of murder in connection with a deadly blaze in Brooklyn that fire officials said was deliberately set.
Flames raced through three-story walk-up at 6709 11th Ave. in Dyker Heights around 7 a.m. Thursday.
Police sources say Joanna Mei, 22, confessed to setting the fire and that she was mad neighbors left garbage in the hallway. It took over 100 firefighters to contain the flames.
Once they did, 56-year-old grandmother Feng Xu and 58-year-old grandfather Xi Huang were found unconscious in their third floor apartment.
“I heard them screaming, I thought they were fighting, but they were obviously in terror trying to get out,” Gina Fiumefreddo said.
Mei has been charged with two counts of murder and arson, police said.
Police sources said Mei had psychological issues and confessed to playing with fire in the past, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
She allegedly told police she set a fire in the first floor stairwell and tried to stomp it out. But it quickly spread, engulfing the second and third floors.
Police sources told CBS2’s Rozner that Mei said she was mad at neighbors for leaving trash in the hallway.
Outside the police station, Rozner reported that she and her crew spotted the same black Toyota police were focused on at the scene Thursday. Inside were packages addressed to Mei in apartment 3F — the same floor the victims lived, Rozner reported.
Neighbors were shocked by the news.
“That’s unbelievable and it’s disgusting. This is just crazy, what is going on anymore?” said Dawn Zatucci, who helped people as they jumped to safety from an awning.
“I think it’s really sad — beyond sad — this is a tight knit community,” said Heidi Pugni.
Ten people were injured, including three firefighters and the couple’s grandchildren — a 3-month-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.
Its not clear what accelerant was allegedly used in the fire, but police sources say they have Mei on camera at the scene, Rozner reported.
There were no working smoke detectors in the building, fire officials said.
For now the fire marshal is investigating.