Auburndale woman dies in house fire

Crime scene tape surrounds the house. Photo by Joe Anuta
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An Auburndale woman died when the house where she was born caught fire Sunday morning, although her cousin made it out of the inferno in time.

Joanne Brown, 63, was pronounced dead outside her home, at 45-08 189th St., after the blaze began around 4:45 a.m., according to the FDNY.

One neighbor, whose girlfriend was alerted to the fire by the sound of the home crackling from the heat, said he rushed out to find flames pouring out of the first-floor windows.

“It was intense. There were flames all over the place,” said Angelo Dominguez, who lives two houses down. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Dominguez found the city’s Bravest already on the scene and his neighbor, John Rebecchi, on the front lawn, black marks of smoke on his face.

“He kept saying: ‘Get Joanne out. Get Joanne out. She’s in there,’” Dominguez said.

Rebecchi is Brown’s cousin, and the two had been living together for the last decade, according to family members and neighbors.

Rebecci was treated for smoke inhalation and taken to New York Hospital Queens. He was released later in the day, according to family members.

Firefighters found Brown in the house, but were too late. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the FDNY.

Neighbors and family said that both Brown and Rebecchi had health problems and took care of each other in the house.

Dominguez had the unfortunate experience of witnessing firefighters bring Brown out of the home early in the morning.

“We all know each other on this block, so it’s sad,” Dominguez said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:41 pm, April 16, 2012
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