EAST VILLAGE — An author and part-owner of Gowanus' Lucey's Lounge was found dead inside her burned-out basement apartment Wednesday morning three weeks before she was scheduled to move out, relatives and officials said.
Evelyn Dahab, 33, who planned to vacate after "a painful legal dispute" with her landlord, was discovered inside the apartment at 31 E. 1st St., near Second Avenue, about 3:15 a.m., after a fire tore through it, according to the NYPD and her family.
Dahab's body was found after about 60 firefighters brought the blaze under control about 30 minutes after they arrived, officials said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
"She was bigger than life and too young to die," said her grieving father, Richard, who visited the apartment Wednesday afternoon.
Neighbors in the apartments above raced down the hallways, banging on everyone's doors to rush them out of the building, said first-floor tenant Chase Chemero, 25.
"When we got out, we looked at the basement apartment door and there was smoke coming from it," Chemero said.
"The fire department came and broke open the door and smoke just came billowing out. It was a very dark gray. The smell was powerful. It just smelled like burnt charcoal," he added.
The fire was sparked by an overloaded electrical circuit, according to the FDNY.
The city's medical examiner's office will determine the her cause of death.
Dahab's parents, who were numb with grief when they visited their daughter's scorched home, fondly remembered their daughter and her many accomplishments.
"She was beautiful. She was a bright girl. She'd written a book. She went to Barnard," said her mother, Carolyn Dahab, who had just spoken to her daughter on Sunday.
The younger Dahab, who was known for hosting parties with friends in her basement apartment, penned "Incapitated," a 2011 memoir recounting her early-adult travels with a rich and powerful bachelor, according to the book's website.
"The story, which spans the fifteen months between their first and last meeting, is a compelling mixture of the most beautiful, erotic, and tragic," according to the site.
In March 2012, she and a friend opened Lucey's Lounge, a cocktail bar at 475 Third Ave. in Gowanus. Lucey's other owner, Henry Lopez, was recently featured on the TruTV show Barmageddon in which bar owners run each other's watering holes for a night.
Dahab had also worked in finance, done some fitness modeling and even appeared on the soap opera "Guiding Light," according to her bio.
Dahab grew up on Long Island before moving to the Upper East Side for eight years and then down to the East Village about 2011, according to her mom and an online profile.
She planned to leave her apartment come Dec. 31 because of "a painful legal dispute" with her building's management company, Big Apple Management, which she said refused to refund her $18,000 deposit, she wrote in an October Facebook post.
She had hoped to host her friends one last time on Dec. 24 at her apartment, which she dubbed Evelyn's Grotto.
"This year's Grotto Christmas Eve is going to go down in the annals of NYC history.... It will be made of the memories that spin into fantastical Urban Tales for decades to come," Dahab wrote.
Big Apple Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.