Southeast DC House Fire Victim Remembered as Queen of the Block

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A fire in Southeast D.C. Tuesday morning killed a beloved 65-year-old grandmother known as the queen of the block.

“She was the queen of the whole area,” Charles Cromwell said. “Everybody knew her and liked her.”

Lilly Hearn Coates grew up on Darrington Street and was known for her kindness and warmth.

Friends say she never met a stranger.

“She was right there,” Cromwell said. “Anybody needed anything she was right there.”

She was a mother of two, a grandmother of six, and an incredible sister and aunt.

“Aunt Lilly was pretty much the gatekeeper for everyone here,” said her nephew Charles Battle Jr. “She raised everyone here; she babysitted everyone here.”


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Just after 5 a.m. Tuesday, Coates house caught fire.

It started in her bedroom while she was sleeping, her nephew said.

Two other men heard the smoke alarm and made it out, including her son, who family members say tried to save her.

“He feels a little bit of remorse that he wasn’t able to go in there and save her when the fire overtook her body,” nephew Brian Battle said.

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