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NY Post
New York Post
12 Aug 2023

NextImg:Queens fire kills 93-year-old woman, injures 2 others

A 93-year-old woman perished in a Queens fire which may have been sparked by a charging e-bike battery, authorities said.

The victim, Kam Mei Koo, was found unconscious and unresponsive on the second floor of 98-01 101st Ave, the FDNY said.

She was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she later died.

Her dutiful son, Jack, had left the home to pick up his daughter Friday, only to find the building in flames when he returned.

“I jumped through the Fire Department and past the ambulance. ‘Where is my mom?’  I only cared about my mom,” a shaken Jack Koo recalled on Saturday morning. “I’m feeling really, really bad.

Koo called his mom “a nice person” who liked walking, but could no longer care for herself.

“She brings me up, feeds me, takes care of me. Now it’s my time to take care of her,” the son said, using the present tense.

“I didn’t expect the fire. That’s really bad.”

Kam Mei Koo, 93, perished in a two-alarm fire at her Queens home.
Wayne Carrington

An e-bike was found on the scene.

“At this time, the cause is under investigation,” the FDNY said..

Koo said he bought a new battery on eBay for $200 that was delivered Aug. 3, adding, “I will tell you one thing, the battery had problem, not the bike.”

Koo, who said his family hails from China, lamented that possessions don’t matter.

“This is money,” he said, pointing at the building.

The fire scene
Koo was found unconscious and unresponsive on the second floor.
Wayne Carrington

“I can make it back but the life, I cannot make it back. Life is more important than money. I came to the United States with $200. I had nothing. I can make it back….but life, I cannot make it back.”

Dharender Kumar, owner of 101 Lucky Deli at the corner of 101 Ave and 98th Street — across from where the fire broke out — said he was checking his stock when a stranger breathlessly ran into the store and asked for a ladder.

“I went outside and saw the smoke coming out of the windows. It was thick and black,” he said.

Kumar caught Marie Rodriguez “hanging onto the window. Half her body was outside the window and the other half was inside the apartment. She was shouting, ‘Save me, save me,'” he explained.

The store owner and an employee brought two ladders to the scene, put them against the side of the building, but the FDNY took over and got Rodriguez, 67, down “right away,” Kumar said.

FDNY at the fire scene

The FDNY was called to the scene shortly after 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Wayne Carrington

Thomas Rodriguez, 61, said his wife, who was treated for smoke inhalation at Jamaica Hospital and released, was still “in a lot of pain” Saturday and had bruising on her arms and legs.

The couple’s kitchen is above the hallway on the first floor where the bike was being charged.

The husband rues that he saw the bike plugged in when he left for work at 7 a.m.

“I was going to unplug it but Jack was there. I should have went with my gut,” Thomas Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said his wife heard some “popping sound and then saw the smoke” and noted the only reason his wife is alive is because she had her door closed and “it bought her time.”

Firefighters also saved the couple’s 3-pound Yorkie, Penny, who was left inside after smoke filled the apartment.

This year, 13 people have died and 88 people were hurt in 149 blazes blamed on e-bike batteries through Aug. 7, the Fire Department told The Post.