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 behold a shocking sight – her neighbor standing horribly burned outside.

The neighbor, 37-year-old Henrietta Viski, sat on the ground in front of her own townhouse in silence, her red hair still burning, Ismail recalled the Sunday of the scene on Friday afternoon.

Ismail grabbed her garden shed, splashed water on the woman, and then attempted to douse the flames of what appeared to be a red jerrycan of petrol that was lying on its side in front of Viski’s townhouse at 275 Chester Le Boulevard, off Victoria Park Avenue.

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

“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 came from Unit 21 with a bucket of water and poured it over Viski, who got up and went back inside.

Badly burned from the upper body up, he asked the assembled neighbors for a sip of water. A girl, who Ismail believes is her teenage daughter, yelled: “Don’t help him, he’s the one who did this” – a statement also heard from another neighbor, Paulette Brown.

On Sunday, two police officers guarded the apparently empty town house. There was broken glass from the front door on the front step, a screen on the floor.

One of several solar lanterns in front of the house was uprooted and melted. Burn marks were visible on the floor where, Ismail said, Viski sat and the red can burned.

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

Brown has had conflicts with neighbors over her four dogs. About a month ago, Brown said, she urged Viski to tie up 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 badly burned in an unrelated attack in Toronto on Friday after being doused with an unknown liquid and set on fire on a TTC bus near the Kipling subway station, police said.

This woman, in her 20s, suffered “life-changing” injuries in what police call a random attack.

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

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