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96-year-old woman dies in Falls house fire

NIAGARA FALLS – A 96-year-old woman who lived alone and may not have been able to hear her smoke alarm died Tuesday morning in a fire in her house at 2753 Woodlawn Ave.

The victim, Maryanne Laratta, was found, in her bed in her second-floor bedroom.

Niagara Falls fire investigators believe the cause was electrical.

The fire was contained to part of the living room and bedroom where the victim was found.

“We believe it started in a wall cavity in the first floor and spread up through the cold-air return right next to her bed,” said Dan Ciszek, Niagara Falls fire-prevention chief.

He said family told him that Laratta was very hard of hearing and may not have heard her smoke detector.

Ciszek said Laratta was widowed 20 years ago and had no children, but had a number of nieces and nephews. She was a longtime resident of Niagara Falls.

Fire officials estimated damage at $30,000 to the $85,000 home.

Firefighters were alerted by a 911 call phoned in by a newspaper carrier at 6:21 a.m. The fire was under control at 6:53 a.m.

Ciszek said there are specialty detectors with strobe lights for people who have difficulty hearing, but that wouldn’t have helped her if she was sleeping. Officials also noted that a smoke detector with a pillow vibrator can help in these cases.

Woodlawn runs off Hyde Park Boulevard in the vicinity of Sal Maglie Stadium.