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Suspicious fire in MidVill claims its fourth victim

The fourth victim in a suspicious Father's Day fire at a Middle Village apartment building died last week as police continued to investigate whether the blaze was caused by arson, police said.

William Salazar, 32, was the fourth tenant to die from the inferno that also killed a family of three during a second- and third-floor fire at 66-78 69th St. in Middle Village June 15, police said. Salazar had been listed in critical condition following the fire and died from his injuries June 18, police said.

Heriberto Garcia, 68, and his wife, Flor Sandoval, 48, and son, Felipe Garcia, 20, all of whom had moved to the United States from Colombia, were pronounced dead at New York Hospital Cornell following the fire, police said. Sandoval had worked as a makeup artist on 2004's Oscar-nominated film "Maria Full of Grace."

The New York Post reported that law enforcement officials believed that the blaze was started by flammable liquid that was poured at the door to Salazar's apartment. Sources told the Post that the fire had been started following an argument between a man and a woman. Salazar's ex-girlfriend was also badly burned in the fire.

An NYPD spokeswoman said the investigation was ongoing and the department was looking into a "person of interest" in the case. No arrests have been made, she said.

Other victims of the fire included a 47-year-old woman, who was listed in critical condition, as well as a 22-year-old man and 25-year-old female, who were listed in stable condition at Elmhurst Hospital, police said. A 46-year-old man was also treated and released, police said.

The fire, which began around 7:30 a.m., spread to the second and third floors of the building, forcing some tenants to jump out of their windows to escape the flames. Two businesses located on the building's bottom floor, a Deli Grocery store and Artistic Stitch, were not damaged by the fire.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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