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Oakland Gardens fire claims 2 lives

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Two people died when a suspicious fire ripped through the couple’s Oakland Gardens apartment around 6:31 a.m. last week gasoline and firefighters later found two containers of gasoline inside the residence, the Fire Department said.

Fire officials said they found Yong Ho Kim, 52, and Sun He Kim, 45, dead in their second−floor apartment at 61−43 223rd Place on Feb. 25. Twelve fire units and 60 firefighters fought the blaze, which could be suspicious, according to fire officials on the scene.

Two gas cans were found in the apartment, a fire official said.

“The nearest fire company is two blocks away, and to reach the magnitude this fire reached that fast, well, it’s a red light,” said a fire official who wished to remain nameless.

Four firefighters sustained minor injuries and were taken to North Shore Hospital. Firefighters had the blaze under control by 7:21 a.m.

According to Deputy Assistant Fire Chief John Sudnik, one of the victims was found in the living room and the other was found in the bedroom.

The New York Post reported Yong Ho Kim murdered his wife and set their apartment on fire after financial problems plagued the couple, who ran a nail salon on Long Island. Debt collectors had been harassing the couple, according to the Post.

The Kims leave behind a daughter, who attends college in Queens neighbors said. According to the Post, Yong Ho Kim called his daughter twice Wednesday morning and left the message “I love you” before killing his wife and himself.

“They were really quiet and kept to themselves,” said Jacqueline Pergola, 45, who lives in an apartment directly across from the Kims’ place. “They were really nice, and I just feel so awful about it. They’re gone, and it’s a shame.”

Pergola said a loud explosion woke her last Wednesday morning. She ran to her window and saw the Kims’ apartment engulfed in flames.

“It was a big boom that I heard, and then I saw a lot of smoke and everything was up in flames,” Pergola said. “I saw the firefighters throwing stuff from their windows. It’s so sad.”

Last week, another Bayside couple died in what police are calling a murder−suicide. Yoon Kim, 64, was discovered hanging in the second floor stairwell of his home on Michael Court Sunday afternoon, police said. His wife, Nyung Kim, 57, had been stabbed to death in the second−floor hallway of the home, police said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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