Despite efforts by neighbors and firefighters, a wheelchair-bound 79-year-old woman died when a two-alarm fire raced through her College Point home Saturday, a Fire Department spokesman said.
The woman had not been positively identified by press time, but the medical examiner's office said she is believed to be Lisa Lotte Pulschen, who lived at 18-41 120th St. with her son, who was not home at the time of the fire.
Firefighters arrived on the scene at 12:03 p.m., and the fire was not brought under control until 1:22 a.m., said David Billig, a Fire Department spokesman.
Five trucks carrying a total of 121 firefighters from Bayside, Whitestone and Flushing firehouses were called to fight the blaze.
The medical examiner has ruled the death an accident and said the victim suffered burns of the bronchial airway and body surface as well as smoke inhalation, said spokeswoman Ellen Borakove.
Neighbors Orlando Insigeres and Kim Goh, who live several houses down from Pulschen, were in their front yards chatting when they noticed smoke coming from the second floor.
Insigeres said they saw smoke coming out of the house and heard screaming, so they broke down the door and faced a back draft.
"We got as far as the stairs, but we saw the flames coming," Insigeres said. "There was a lot of thick black smoke. It was like rolling balls of fire."
Insigeres ran to call 911, and firefighters arrived moments later.
"We tried our best. The smoke was so heavy and we did whatever we could," said Goh. "I feel so sorry for her."
Liz Sinatra, a volunteer driver for the Meals on Wheels program, delivered meals to Pulschen for about three years.
"She was nice, very talkative," Sinatra said. "But lately she had come to the door with her oxygen tank, so she didn't talk much."
Ironically, Sinatra had to move after her apartment in College Point burned down in October.
©2000 Community News Group
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