ELMHURST — Three men died, including a 71-year-old Navy veteran, when a fire tore through an Elmhurst home Monday night, police said.
The three men — two of whom police identified as Craig Lott, 53, and Martin Devereux, 71 — were inside 42-28 Ithaca St., near Elmhurst Avenue, about 10:30 p.m. when flames erupted and engulfed the building, NYPD officials said.
"There was a lot of smoke. Firefighters started breaking the windows. Smoke was coming from the first floor up. It was black. The firefighters were running in. They had hoses out," said neighbor Teresa Caballero, 43.
About 60 firefighters helped bring the blaze under control by 11:30 p.m., an FDNY spokesman said.
QNS 2-ALARM 42-28 ITHACA ST, PRIVATE DWELLING FIRE ON 2ND FLR, UNDER CONTROL— FDNYalerts (@FDNYAlerts) March 22, 2016
"They pulled three guys out. The first was conscious. He was trying to gasp for air. They were carrying him by the hands and legs," Caballero said.
"The next two guys they carried out weren't conscious. Their eyes were closed and they were burned. I started crying," she added.
Devereux, a Navy veteran who owned the house, frequently attended the Italian Charities of America's senior center.
"He was here every single day for lunch, he was very involved in the community," recalled Maria Cuoco, 53, director of the organization.
"A very quiet guy, minded his own business. I was supposed to meet him yesterday but he didn't show up, he wasn't at the community meeting," added neighbor and friend Gary Lewis, 62.
Fire marshals will determine the fire's cause and the medical examiner's office will determine the men's cause of death, officials said.