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Hempstead fire claims life of another victim

Residents of an apartment damaged during a fire

Residents of an apartment damaged during a fire look through some of their burnt belongings outside the building in Hempstead, N.Y. (Feb. 9, 2013) Credit: AP

The fire that roared through a Hempstead apartment complex Saturday, killing an 8-year-old boy and forcing hundreds of residents from adjoining buildings into the bitter cold, claimed another victim Sunday.

Guadalupe Ramirez was pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center at 8:25 a.m., Nassau police confirmed. Ramirez lived in the same one-bedroom, third-floor apartment where the fire started and the boy was killed. His identity was not released Sunday. Ramirez was one of five other residents who lived in the apartment. Three children and a woman also lived there, said Nassau Police Insp. Kenneth Lack.

The blaze started at about 6 a.m. Saturday just as the blizzard was winding down. More than 250 residents from the burning building and five other buildings in the complex were forced from their homes.

Many evacuees, some still in pajamas and wrapped in blankets, stood in the cold. More than 70 residents took shelter at a recreation center at Kennedy Park on Saturday. The Red Cross provided assistance.

The displaced residents were not allowed back yesterday and won't be able to return today, said Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne J. Hall, adding that many are staying in the sports complex at Kennedy Park.

The cause of the fire was undetermined, but not deemed suspicious, James Hickman, division supervisor with the Nassau fire marshal's office, said Saturday. Officials with the Dorchester Organization, which manages the buildings, said they are cooperating with the investigation.

Many of those displaced were seen retrieving personal items from their homes.

Victor Rivera, 44, of Hempstead, lives in one of the adjoining buildings next to 17 St. Paul's Road N., where the fire started.

Rivera's apartment was not damaged, but he was told he could not enter the complex until crews checked on utilities and the structures of the buildings to make sure it was safe.

Sunday, he stood along St. Paul's Road N., with his bags packed inside the back of his minivan.

Rivera knew the victim as "Lupita" Ramirez and was shocked when he heard the news that she had died after he spoke to her mother, Ana, in a call.

He said the boy that died was Ramirez's son, but Nassau police would not confirm the identity of the boy pending a DNA analysis.

"I'm really sorry to hear this," he said to her over the phone in Spanish. "If you need anything please, this is my number, take it down and call me if you need anything."--With Robert Brodsky

and Deon J. Hampton

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