Howard Beach fire seriously injures one, partially collapses home

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THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen
THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

A fire in Howard Beach Wednesday left one woman with serious burns and caused a home to partially collapse.

A two-alarm fire in Howard Beach today sent one woman to the hospital and practically split a home in half.

More than twenty fire trucks responded to the blaze, on the corner of 163rd Avenue and 84th Street, which broke out just before 2 p.m. Chief Robert Maynes said a gas explosion ignited the fire and caused a partial collapse of the home.

The woman inside was transferred to Jamaica Hospital for severe burns, Maynes said. A police source said she was later moved to Cornell Medical Center.

National Grid turned gas off to the home, Maynes said, but several fire trucks will stay in the area as a precaution. What caused the blast is unknown, he said, and the Fire Marshall will investigate.

There was no damage to the homes surrounding the house, Maynes said.

Joseph Noll, who lives on 85th Street, said he and his friends heard the blast a block away and headed over.

Noll said there were no flames when they arrived, but the strong scent of gas. Flames became visible some 10 to 15 minutes later, he said, just before firefighters arrived.

“It was just smoke and smell,” Noll said, referring to the gas.

The victim came running out of the house, Noll said, and a significant amount of skin had been burned off. Noll and his friends tried to console the woman, whom he said was in shock until first responders arrived.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I just kept telling her, ‘Help is going to be here soon.’”