Careless Smoking Materials Cause Deadly Fire

September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 23, 2010 at 7:17 PM EDT

By Laura Gray

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September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 23, 2010 at 7:17 PM EDT

GRAND ISLAND (WKBW) -- Two residents in the Country Glen apartment complex noticed smoke in the hallways around ten fifteen Thursday night. When firefighters arrived at 2145 Bedell Road, a third floor apartment was filled with smoke. They tried to resuscitate 60 year old Miriam Notaro, but it was too late.

"We made a quick hit on the fire. Heavy, heavy amounts of debris in the apartment. We had a tough time gaining access into the apartment because of that, and encountered some difficulties in rescuing the victim as well." says Department Chief Kevin Koch of the Grand Island Fire Department.

60 year old Miriam Notaro was found dead in the bedroom of her apartment. Maintenance man Keith Zimmerman knew the woman, nicknamed "mimi". He not surprised that firefighters had a tough time getting access to her apartment. "She was kind of a pack rat. The things on the ground aren't even a fraction of what's in that apartment." Eyewitness News reporter Laura Gray asks "So you've been in her apartment? What did it look like?" Zimmerman says, "It was kind of cluttered. She would buy stuff, leave it in the bags, and leave it sitting around."

Zimmerman says the two apartments below the victim's were damaged. Grand Island Fire tells us that one resident suffered minor smoke inhalation. There is no sprinkler system in the building, but Zimmerman believes the smoke alarms were working at the time.

Building resident Frederick Bush says the building was well maintained and the fire department was recently there for a safety check. "I was so upset. This is such a wonderful neighborhood. And the people here are just outstanding, and it's so upsetting to hear someone got in a fire and died in such a travesty."

The Erie County Medical Examiner's office says Notaro died from smoke inhalation. The Erie County Sheriff's Department says the fire was accidental, and caused by careless smoking materials.