Today’s news:

Vietnam vet dies in East Elmhurst fire

East Elmhurst resident David Newkirchen, 61, died in a fire in his apartment on 22-25 77th St. Friday, police sources said.

According to police, the 114th Precinct received a 911 call at around 6:30 p.m. reporting the fire.

Joe Chimenti, 68, who lives across the street, said he was alerted to the fire when he heard the sirens outside.

While he did not see any flames, he saw black smoke coming out the window. After the fire engines arrived, Chimenti said the windows were blasted out of the third floor. Fifteen minutes later, the Fire Department took Newkirchen, who was only wearing his underwear, out of the apartment and attempted to perform CPR.

Police sources said Newkirchen was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital and pronounced DOA.

The investigation was still ongoing and the Police Department did not believe any crime or foul play was involved.

Chimenti described Newkirchen as a loner. He said Newkirchen was taking medication for mental illness and Chimenti was the only person Newkirchen talked to in the neighborhood.

He said he did not know if Newkirchen had a family, but knew Newkirchen was a Vietnam veteran and served sometime around the mid-to-late 1960s.

“I feel bad ...,” Chimenti said. “He’s a vet like myself. Any time there’s a life lost [it’s sad], regardless of how you feel about the person.”

He said he was not sure what could have caused Newkirchen’s death.

“I don’t understand,” Chimenti said. “I don’t get it.”

The apartment complex where Newkirchen lived was not evacuated after the fire.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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