A woman who crashed her car into a Fall River apartment building, setting off a massive fire, died Tuesday, authorities said.
Hours after officials said the fire had been put out, the blaze flared again. Flames could be seen coming from the roof of the Four Winds Apartments on North Main Street. Firefighters were dousing them with water from a cherry picker attached to their truck.
The fire originally began Tuesday morning after 72-year-old Judith Mauretti, of Fall River, crashed her 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix into the building just before 10 a.m. Emergency crews arrived to find Mauretti dead in her vehicle, the Bristol County District Attorney's Office said.
A 75-year-old Fall River woman who was a passenger in Mauretti's vehicle was pulled from the burning car and rushed to Rhode Island Hospital in critical condition.
The Bristol County District Attorney's Office says all occupants in the apartment building have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported. Nearly four dozen residents were displaced, however.
“It’s a shame. It’s awful. People have lost everything,” one couple said.
Jack Steele and his wife, who live directly across from where the car made impact, narrowly escaped.
“We tried to get out the front but the smoke was so heavy at the time and it happened so quick so we went out the back,” Steele said.
Witnesses said the car was moving fast Tuesday morning when it jumped the curb and crashed into the building.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the call and, at one point, crews were forced to retreat as flames pushed out from the building's windows.
Four firefighters were hospitalized for exhaustion.
In all, 45 residents were displaced from the 36-unit building, and several apartments were damaged.
Those who were displaced are being assisted by the American Red Cross.
The cause of the fatal car crash and ensuing apartment fire remain under investigation but it does not appear at this time that foul play is suspected.