Daughter Desperately Tried to Save Mom from Deadly Fire

DNA Info - August 11, 2017

by Kevin Sheehan, Daniel Prendergast and Natalie Musumeci

The daughter of the elderly woman who was killed early Thursday in a fatal Brooklyn house fire said she desperately tried to get her mother out burning building, but her bedroom door was locked.

“We tried to get her out,” a devastated Barbara Wilson, 65, said of her 81-year-old mother Gertrude Duncan hours after the blaze.

“My son said ‘there is smoke! There is smoke!’ but the door was locked because she liked her privacy. She was inside,” Wilson, who lived with Duncan on the first floor of the Crown Heights building, said through tears.

The fire erupted at about 1:15 a.m. at 1347 Pacific St. and then spread to the upper floors, FDNY officials said.

Responding firefighters found Duncan unconscious and unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 49-year-old woman on the third floor suffered burns to her hands and was rushed to Cornell University Hospital where she was listed in stable condition, officials said.

“Wash me in the blood Jesus! Give me faith god. Give me strength,” Wilson sobbed. “It hurts so much!”

Wilson noted that her mother was well-loved on the block.

“She was loving. Everyone loved her. She always liked to talk to people and sit outside. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.

A next-door neighbor who would only identify herself as Sherri said “the kids loved” Duncan.

“They all call her ‘Momma Oma.’ They sit with her every day,” Sherri said. “When the kids in the building find out she died, we’re going to have a problem. How do we explain this? She was just so friendly and wonderful to everyone.”

The neighbor added that Wilson had a big party planned next week for Duncan’s 82nd birthday.

“God help her,” she said.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The Medical Examiner will determine Duncan’s cause of death.