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

Cigarette smoking in bed has been suspected as reason for fire

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

New York: An elderly Manhattan couple died in a blaze that engulfed their luxury high-rise apartment before dawn Saturday. Investigators have suspected cigarette smoking in bed as the cause of 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 said that Mary Merow was found unresponsive, with severe burns.

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.

 According to the Street Easy real estate database, current prices for apartments range from about $3 million to $14 million.