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Grandmother Dies in Queens Fire, Cops Say

By  Trevor Kapp Andrea Swalec and Aidan Gardiner | July 17, 2013 7:50am | Updated on July 18, 2013 7:09am

 The fire on July 17, 2013 killed grandmother Josephine Humphrey, officials said.
Deadly Jamaica, Queens Fire
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JAMAICA — A grandmother died when a predawn blaze ripped through her 102nd Avenue home Wednesday morning, cops and neighbors said.

Josephine Humphrey was killed when a discarded cigarette sparked a fire within 138-16 102nd Ave. about 5:30 a.m., near the Van Wyck Expressway, the FDNY said.

The blaze was brought under control about 30 minutes later, an FDNY spokesman said.

Humphrey, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the NYPD.

Neighbors said Humphrey was 50 years old and spoke frequently about her grandchildren. The Chaguanas, Trinidad native had lived on the block for several years, but had only recently moved into the home that caught fire.

"She was very sweet and upbeat with an abundance of manners, which is pretty rare these days," said Latanya Dawson, who said she had known Humphrey for about five years.

"It's a shame. She didn't deserve this," Dawson added.

Humphrey liked to dress well and doted on neighborhood kids, another neighbor said.

"Whatever she had she would give to the kids — gum, toys. She was never empty-handed," said Jelease Elby, 32.

Elby's husband, Freedom, said he last saw Humphrey on Tuesday.

"She was hollering out the window saying, 'I'm online! I'm online!'" excited to have finally connected her computer to the internet, Freedom Elby said.

"I'll always remember her in that window," he said. "She was so excited."

Hours later, the fire gutted the top floors of the Jamaica home and left its window casings badly scorched.

Niven Sookroo, who lived in the basement with his family, said he awoke to the sound of shattering glass and a burning smell.

He alerted his wife and the family raced outside to see firefighters breaking the windows of their home as flames took it over, he said.

"It smelled like burnt rubber," he said. "The flames were like 5 or 6 feet high. I'd only seen that in the movies. To experience it in your own home is different.''