NEW YORK — Jan 12, 2019, 6:08 PM ET

Elderly couple die in luxury Manhattan high-rise blaze

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An elderly Manhattan couple died in a blaze that engulfed their luxury high-rise apartment before dawn Saturday and sent flames roaring out the windows.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that cigarette smoking in bed may have caused the fire at the famed River House co-op on East 52nd Street.

Fire officials say 85-year-old Mary Merow was pronounced dead at the scene. Her 89-year-old husband, John Merow, was rushed to Weill Cornell Medical Center but died of his injuries. Three firefighters were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

The fire started just after 5 a.m. in the couple's ninth-floor apartment, filling its dozen or so rooms with smoke. Officials say Mary Merow was found unresponsive, with severe burns.

The cause of the blaze at the Art Deco building overlooking the FDR Drive and the East River is under investigation.

The palatial River House complex was built in 1931, with a 26-story tower and two 15-story wings. It's been home to notable residents including Henry Kissinger, Uma Thurman and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. Current prices for apartments range from about $3 million to $14 million, according to the Street Easy real estate database.

News - Elderly couple die in luxury Manhattan high-rise blaze

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  • Kimbell

    At least ABC included a picture of a Firemen........When was the last time the Building was inspected.....

  • snake

    I wonder if the building had a sprinkler system installed and if not why not? Surly these folks could have afforded one.

  • Bronx

    Please folks, in addition to several working smoke alarms, consider some of the
    automatic chemical extinguishers on the market. They aren't inexpensive, but can sometimes
    fill in when old construction precludes retrofit with sprinklers.

    Do lots of research and maybe consult with your fire department before committing to
    the expense.