The house on East 47th Place caught fire at approximately 3:30 a.m. The resident, Anna Brooks, did not make it out alive.
Investigators say a floor furnace is to blame for the blaze. Brooks and her caretaker were asleep inside the home. The caretaker was able to escape the flames, but Brooks died at an area hospital from smoke inhalation.
Brooks has lived on East 47th Place for more than 60 years. Many of her neighbors affectionately called her "grandma." One of her neighbors, Vanessa Torres, tried to save Brooks by entering the home through a back door before firefighters arrived. She fought through smoke and flames to look for Brooks, but she had to turn back because the heat and smoke got too intense.
"I think anybody would have done it. Anybody for grandma would have done it, or for anybody," Torres said.
When fire crews arrived on scene, they had to cut through bars in the windows to get into the home. More than 50 firefighters put out the fire in just under 20 minutes.
Fire officials said Brooks' home did have a smoke alarm, but it's unknown if it was functional. First responders did not hear any audible alarms on scene. The house was not equipped with fire sprinklers. The monetary property loss was not immediately known.
Fire officials say this is the eighth fatal fire this year that could have been prevented if the home had working smoke alarms.
There were 21 such fatalities in 2013, so firefighters are very concerned that the number is so high so early this year. This has prompted them to go door-to-door to pass out free smoke alarms in Brooks' neighborhood as well as surrounding areas, encouraging residents to install the alarms and check them to make sure they're in working order.