Update: Massive fire in Harlem Burns Funeral chapel with body inside

December 14, 2013

2-alarm-fireA distraught 57-year-old man watched a massive fire rip through a Harlem funeral home Friday night, fearing he would lose his mother for the second time.

Henry Thomas of Fayetteville, N.C., said the remains of his 82-year-old mother, Marguerite, who died of heart failure, were lying in a casket in the basement of the funeral home on W. 145th St. Her burial was scheduled for Monday in Fairlawn, N.J.

blaze14n-4-webThe body of Marguerite Dorsey Thomas was lying in the chapel at the time of the fire.

“She was supposed to be buried next to my father. I’m praying she’s not burned up,” said Thomas, as tears ran down his face.“She’s in there. My best friend is in there.”

More than 150 firefighters spent the night battling the blaze, which erupted inside a hair salon near Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. at about 7:45 p.m.

blaze14n-3-webHenry Thomas says his mother’s body was inside of the funeral home at the James L Perkins Memorial Chapel when the fire raged through the building.

The fire quickly spread to four adjoining storefronts, including the funeral home, which opened in 1929, a food pantry and the Radio Church of God Gospel Spreading Church.

No injuries had been reported as of early Saturday, officials said. An investigation into the cause of the fire was underway.

The owner of the funeral home could not be reached for comment.

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