The Woodside community has united to extinguish the needs of the 24 people whose lives were recently devastated by a fatal fire.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined Pastor Daniel Gilland, representatives from the American Red Cross and members of the families displaced by the two-alarm blaze — which spawned in and destroyed the two-story house located at 40-38 61st Street before spreading and causing severe damage to two neighboring homes — to announce a benefit drive organized in support of the victims.
One man perished in the flames, while five others were injured – including a firefighter. In total, three families, comprised of 20 adults and four children, were left without homes following the inferno on the night of November 18.
The FDNY was initially notified of the fire at 1:15 a.m., and it required the work of 25 trucks and more than 106 firefighters before finally settling down at 3:10 a.m. According to an FDNY spokesperson, the incident has been classified as an accidental electrical fire, caused by either wiring or an electrical cord, and has not been deemed suspicious.
“This tragic fire devastated the lives of 25 Woodside residents, including four children,” said Van Bramer. “They are our community neighbors and now is the time to show them that we are here to help and support them as they rebuild their lives. Especially at this time of year, during the holidays, it is important to offer these families some assistance and stability as they go through this grueling ordeal.”
The drive will be collecting food and household items, including diapers, baby food, non-perishable adult food, cleaning products, toys, new clothing and cooking utensils. Donations will be accepted until December 21. They be submitted at the councilmember’s district office, located at 47-01 Queens Boulevard, or at the Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Broadway and Court’s Square libraries.
“Together we can stand with these neighbors and encourage them, strengthen them and support them through this difficult time as we help to provide needs like clothing, toys and other life essentials,” said Gilland, who lives on the same block where the fire occurred. “I believe that as this community bands together we can take what seems a tragedy and turn it into something beautiful.”
Gilland, who organized a neighborhood vigil the weekend after the fire, said there has been a “great outpouring” within the community to aid their neighbors – a sentiment that has not gone unnoticed by those afflicted by the tragedy.
Pacita Gamboa-Gabor, who lost her home in the blaze, voiced her appreciation for her neighbors’ generosity during this trying time.
“It’s wonderful. I’m so happy,” said Gamboa-Gabor, who is currently living at a friend’s house with her husband, who suffered injuries during the fire when he leapt out of a second floor window. “I keep crying thinking about how good people have been [during their outreach].”
Additional reporting by Alexa Altman