By Trevor Kapp and Wil Cruz
QUEENS — A 74-year-old woman cooking an egg in her Jackson Heights apartment Monday morning died after her nightgown caught fire, officials said.
Helen Genna was cooking in the kitchen of her second floor flat home at 34-15 74th St. just before 10:30 a.m. when flames accidentally ignited her clothing, police and fire officials said.
Her gown still aflame, Genna rushed out of her apartment and collapsed in the building's hallway, an FDNY spokesman said.
A terrified witness dashed into I.S. 230, a middle school across the street, looking for help, an education official said.
By the time firefighters arrived, Genna was dead, an NYPD spokesman said.
"She was a sweet lady. She was always polite and asked if you need anything," said Anthony Diaz, 25, who lives on the fourth floor in the building. "If you needed a plate of food or anything, she'd give it to you.
"She was the sweetest woman," he added.
An investigation by fire marshals confirmed that the victim's sleeve caught fire while she was cooking, according to an FDNY tweet.
Police, too, determined that the death seemed accidental.
"It doesn't look criminal at all," a police source said.
No one else was injured. The witness who ran into the middle school fainted, but was not otherwise hurt, officials said.
Neighbors remembered Genna, who lived alone, as a fixture in front of the building who always sat in her lawn chair.
"She'd ask us to help open cans of soda for her," said Jovana Montelalegre, a neighbor. "She was always thankful. She was very nice."