Today’s news:

Flushing senior dies in blaze at residence

TimesLedger Newspapers

A 73-year-old woman who lived in the Flushing House Retirement Home died last week in a fire she accidentally started by smoking in bed, the home said.

“The resident had been smoking in bed and apparently fell asleep, and the lit cigarette ignited her bed on fire,” the retirement home said in a statement.

More than 100 firefighters and 25 fire trucks responded to the two-alarm fire, at 38-20 Bowne St., shortly after midnight Dec. 19.

Michael Rosen, a resident of Flushing House Retirement Home who said he was the woman’s neighbor, identified her as Natalie Blatt, but the retirement residence and Fire Department refused to confirm the woman’s identity.

“She asked me to buy her cigarettes last week, but I said no,” Rosen said.

Firefighters found the woman inside her apartment, which was engulfed in flames, with more than 90 percent of her body burned. She was taken to Flushing Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival, the Fire Department said.

“It’s very sad,” Rosen said. “She was a very sweet lady and a widow who would come over to have coffee with me.”

The FDNY refused to confirm the cause of the blaze and said the investigation was ongoing.

The fire did not spread to any other units in the building and no one else was injured, the Fire Department said.

It was not known whether the home had a no smoking policy.

“The staff and residents mourn the loss of one of our own,” the Flushing House Retirement Home said in a statement. “We remain committed to the health and safety of the residents who call this community their home. Our entire community is mourning the tragic loss of a family member, and we give thanks for your thoughts and prayers.”

Police said the incident was not considered suspicious.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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