Neighbor says she tried to save burning woman with garden hose


Warning: The following story contains graphic details.

After hearing a scream, Fayruus Ismail emerged from her Scarborough townhouse to a shocking sight — her neighbor standing outside, horrifically burned.

The neighbour, 37-year-old Henrietta Viski, silently sat down on the ground outside her own townhouse, her red hair still burning, Ismail recalled Sunday of the Friday afternoon scene.

Ismail grabbed her garden house and sprayed water on the woman and then tried to douse flames from what appeared to be a red gas can, lying on its side outside Viski’s townhouse at 275 Chester Le Boulevard, near Victoria Park Avenue.

Viski died in hospital Saturday. Police say she is Toronto’s 32nd homicide victim of this year. Charges are pending against 38-year-old Norbert Budai, who was also burned.

“I feel so sorry for her,” said Ismail, who has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years. “We are human, we have to help each other, we have the same blood.”

Ismail said Budai emerged from Unit 21 with a bucket of water, and poured it on Viski, who stood up and walked back inside.

Badly burned from the torso up, he asked the gathering neighbors for a drink of water. A girl Ismail believes to be their teenage daughter yelled: “Don’t help him, he’s the one who did this,” — a statement also heard by another neighbour, Paulette Brown.

On Sunday, two police officers stood watch over the apparently empty townhouse. Shattered glass from the front door sat on the front step, a screen on the ground.

The house at 275 Chester Le in Scarborough, home of Henrietta Viski.

One of a collection of solar lanterns in front of the home was uprooted and melted. Scorch marks were visible on the ground where, Ismail said, Viski sat and the red can burned.

Ismail and Brown, another longtime resident, said the family had moved to the street less than a year ago and kept mostly to themselves.

Brown had conflict with the neighbors over their four dogs. About a month ago, Brown said, she urged Viski to tether the animals in her backyard after at least one jumped a fence.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact police at 416-808-7400.

Another woman was also severely burned Friday in Toronto in an unrelated attack after, police say, she was doused with an unknown liquid and ignited on a TTC bus near Kipling subway station.

That woman, in her 20s, suffered “life-altering” injuries in what police are calling a random attack.

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider

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