Cynthia Holley, a 53-year-old grandmother, recently died of suffocation after reportedly attempting to save her beloved cats inside her burning house. After leading her two daughters and grandson out of the fire, she went back inside to rescue her cats but never made it back out.
On Wednesday, around 7:30 pm, a fire broke out engulfing Holley’s home on Boller Ave. in Eastchester. The Fire Department of the City of New York determined that an unattended candle caused the fire. There was a smoke alarm installed at the home but wasn’t operational.
A next-door neighbor, Claudel Bull, said she went outside immediately when she saw the fire. She saw Holley’s two daughters — an adult and a teenager — screaming and crying.
“My mother is inside!” they screamed, said Bull.
Apparently, Holley, who was known as a jolly person and a cat-lover, led her family out of the burning house but went back inside to try and save her cats. Neighbors said the victim has at least six cats.
“She had the cats inside,” Holley’s devastated mother said. “She loved those cats.”
According to Bull, their neighbors attempted to rescue Holley. “The neighbors with my brother ran across the street, grabbed a ladder, and tried to see if they could put the ladder up,” she said.
By the time they placed the ladder, fire trucks arrived and firefighters put up their own ladder. They entered the house to search for any victims.
“They just couldn’t find her,” Bull said. “They were looking for her for so long that I went to the kids and asked them ‘Are you sure your mom is in there?’”
Bull’s brother eventually spotted Holley near an upper floor window, making it seem like she was trying to get fresh air. Firefighters then found her unresponsive on the stairwell inside the burning house.
Holley was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center. However, due to excessive smoke inhalation, she hasn’t been revived.