Tragedy struck early this morning as a large fire set a quiet family home ablaze on New Rochelle’s Hamilton Avenue. Witnesses say the fire began on the first floor around 11:30 pm last night, and seemed to escalate remarkably quickly from there. Soon, flames consumed the entire house, becoming so large that it took firefighters until around 2:00 am to finally extinguish it. Sadly, 55-year-old Loretta Wood was eventually found dead in her second-story bedroom, after her nephew Greg Wood and father Nicholas Wood escaped by jumping from a third-story window to a nearby tree and into the arms of officers waiting 10 feet below.
The property was located in New Rochelle’s historic district, and, according to city documents, dated back more than 100 years to 1909. It had been in the possession of the Wood family for close to half a century, family members say. They note that they are unsure what could have initiated the fire, though officials report no suspicious activity is suspected. The official cause of Loretta’s death also remains unknown.
Now, the entire New Rochelle community is deeply grieving Loretta’s loss. She’d worked at Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains since 2005, and was adored by patients and colleagues alike. Speaking to the Journal News, a Burke spokesperson remarked, “She’s just been so beloved by so many people. She’s really an amazing person.” Added her aunt, Frances Wood, who owned the family’s home, “She’ll be dearly missed.”