Firefighters sorted through ashes and debris after an early-morning fire Monday raced through a home on Wheatley St. in Far Rockaway, killing two women.
"There was smoke everywhere, it really covered the whole top of the house," a nearby resident said. "You could smell it even from far away, it was bothering my lungs and my mother's lungs.”
The fire broke out at around 4 a.m. as fierce winds lashed the Rockaway peninsula during a rainstorm, posing a challenge to firefighters.
"When you have wind conditions — and we had shifting winds and very heavy winds this morning — it makes fire conditions extremely difficult," FDNY Deputy Chief Dan Brown said.
The fire began on the first floor and spread to the second, leaving the home with structural damage, officials said. The two victims were found unconscious inside and were pronounced dead at a local hospital.
"It's a terrible thing that happened. It's real hard to know that two people burned up," a nearby resident said. "It's very hard, and knowing it's my neighborhood."
"It was scary because it was something that could happen to anyone, and just to think also everyone was sleeping in their houses and nobody heard anything and it could have caught into their houses," said another neighbor.
More than 100 FDNY personnel responded to the fire, which was brought under control in about an hour.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.