Deli owner bereft after Flushing blaze

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THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Thien K. Dinh has been arrested and confessed to setting 13 fires in Flushing, including a three-alarm inferno that injured 19 firefighters and two civilians in August, fire officials said.

Nineteen firefighters and two civilians were seriously injured after a raging three-alarm fire tore through a four-story home in Flushing early this week, fire officials said.

“It was like a possessed building,” said nearby neighbor Charles G., who did not want to give his last name. “It was a stubborn fire. The fire on the top just refused to die. It kept flaring up in different spots. Even though they put tons of water up there, it kept coming back.”

Flames engulfed the entire multiple family dwelling at 143-01 45th Avenue near Bowne Street at around 2:55 a.m. on Monday, August 20, the FDNY said. Officials said the blaze was controlled by 5:56 a.m.

The two civilians suffered injuries from smoke inhalation and were sent to area hospitals in serious but stable condition, authorities said. Two firefighters were treated and released at the scene, while the other 17 were taken to nearby hospitals. Their conditions were unknown as of press time, an FDNY spokesperson said, but they were all recently released.

Multiple reports say the fire started from a laundromat on the ground floor, but fire officials said the cause is still under investigation.

The raging embers also totaled a five-year-old deli located adjacent to the gutted corner house, leaving business owner Jasvinder Marwaha staring stunned at the debris hours later.

“It’s finished. Everything is gone,” said Marwaha, 50, who owns Indo Pak & American Grocery. “I have a family of three kids and a mortgage I have to pay.”

Marwaha, whose store was closed at the time of the early morning fire, said he could not guess how much money in damages the fire incurred because he was not allowed to go inside yet.