daughter of 9/11 pilot killed by fire

from new york times: Five years after her father’s plane crashed into the Pentagon in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a woman was found dead yesterday in a fire at the Galaxy Towers apartment complex in Guttenberg, N.J.

The woman, Wendy Burlingame, 32, was discovered by firefighters in a short hallway between the kitchen and the bedroom of her 10th-floor apartment where the four-alarm fire began, said Edward DeFazio, the Hudson County prosecutor. Mr. DeFazio said the fire, which law enforcement officials are calling suspicious, began shortly after midnight in the apartment Ms. Burlingame shared with her companion and was still under investigation, as was the cause of Ms. Burlingame’s death. No one else was injured in the fire, Mr. DeFazio said.

Ms. Burlingame was the daughter of Charles F. Burlingame III, a 25-year Navy veteran who was the captain of American Airlines Flight 77, which slammed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11., 2001, killing 189 people.

Mr. DeFazio said her companion of three years was among several people being interviewed in connection with her death. He would not identify the companion, but tenants in the complex identified him as Kevin Roderick.

Sebastian Rojas, 27, lives downstairs from Mr. Roderick. He said that while he did not know Mr. Roderick and Ms. Burlingame well, they were “real late-night people” whose footsteps, and two dogs, he heard constantly above his head.

The two dogs were also found dead in the home, Mr. DeFazio said.

Shortly before the fire erupted, Mr. Rojas said, there were “louder noises than usual” coming from the apartment upstairs, “like somebody running around up there, like somebody doing something up there in a rush.”

Then he said he heard a thud — “like somebody dropped something”— and three or four minutes later the building’s fire alarm sounded. Mr. Rojas said that within minutes his apartment filled with smoke. He then safely left the building.

Lucy Gell, who works at the building’s front desk, said that Ms. Burlingame was a kind, generous woman with “model good looks.” She added that Ms. Burlingame had brought her down a plate of turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, saying that Mr. Roderick was out.

Debra A. Burlingame, Ms. Burlingame’s aunt, was reached at home last night before she even knew of her niece’s death. She burst into tears on the phone and would not comment further. Ms. Burlingame’s mother, Nancy Perfect, was also reached at home last night. She, too, declined to discuss her daughter’s death.

One response to “daughter of 9/11 pilot killed by fire”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Galaxy blaze started ‘on or under’ bed: officials
    Thursday, December 07, 2006
    GUTTENBERG – Investigators are still trying to determine why and how a fatal fire began in the Galaxy Towers, but they believe they know where it began.

    Authorities said the fatal fire apparently started “on or under” the bed in the bedroom of the 10th floor apartment Wendy Burlingame shared with her boyfriend, Kevin Roderick.

    The pair apparently tried to use water from a nearby sink to douse the fire, which apparently began late Monday night.

    The blaze may have been started by a candle, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said yesterday, although a specific cause has not been established.

    The couple abandoned their efforts once the fire grew and the apartment began to fill up with smoke. Roderick made it out of the apartment, but told investigators he didn’t realize Burlingame wasn’t behind him until the apartment door had closed and automatically locked behind him.

    Her body was found in the hallway, between the bedroom and the kitchen, investigators said. An autopsy performed yesterday determined she suffered smoke inhalation, but the state Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark will not release the exact cause and manner of her death pending the results of a toxicology report, DeFazio said.

    Homicide investigators interviewed Roderick Tuesday, and he was released. He is a witness, not a suspect, DeFazio said.

    “The boyfriend said he’s not sure how it started because he was in bed dozing off, and he woke up to see the already-ignited fire,” DeFazio said.

    “There is a possibility alcohol was consumed by both prior to the fire,” he added.

    The fire grew but was contained to the apartment thanks to the fire-proof design of the building. The fire was declared under control Tuesday around 2 a.m.

    The apartments do not have sprinklers, but the hallways do, a Guttenberg fire official said. Because the complex received its certificate of occupancy in 1976, the buildings only have to be partially sprinklered, the official said.

    Journal staff writer Charles Hack contributed to this report.


    This was a tragic accident – nothing more. How about showing a little respect?

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