Tag Archives: FDNY

Six injured after bus crashes into Rego Park building


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Aaron Amrhein

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 25 10:37 a.m. 

Six people were injured after a Resorts World Casino bus crashed into a Rego Park building Monday afternoon after trying to avoid hitting another vehicle, authorities said.

Fire officials responded to a call at 2:24 p.m. of a bus transporting people slamming into a two-story building located at 87-17 63rd Ave., the FDNY said.

According to officials, six people were hurt in the crash, including one person who was inside the building, and were taken to Jamaica Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens.

The 39-year-old driver of the bus — who was the most seriously injured and taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens with cuts and bruises on his face and hands — was trying to avoid a Toyota that made a sharp right turn in front of him at the intersection of 63rd Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard before losing control, according to police.

The bus, which was traveling on a designated bus lane on Woodhaven Boulevard, then hit the Toyota before going into the building and also striking a second vehicle that was parked.

The 37-year-old driver of the Toyota, who was not injured, was later issued a summons for an improper turn, according to police.

An investigation to determine the cause of the accident is still ongoing.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the bus accident,” Resorts World said in a statement following the crash. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities in the investigation.”

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FDNY triumphs over NYPD at first annual Resorts World cook-off


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Resorts World Casino

Mouths watered and cooking skills were put to the test this weekend as the city’s Finest and Bravest battled it out over the grill.

Members of the FDNY and NYPD participated in the Battle of the Badges: FDNY vs. NYPD Cook-Off this Sunday at Resorts World Casino, located at 110-00 Rockaway Blvd.

The contest, which was hosted by former FDNY firefighter and host of PBS’s “Firehouse Kitchen” Ray Cooney, featured dishes cooked by 10 members of each team.

After going head to head and putting all their hard work on their individual dishes, one firefighter came out the top dog in the competition.

Khalid Baylor of Ladder 14 in East Harlem won the Battle of the Badges Cook-Off alongside his son after grilling up Tennessee apple smoked ribs, served with apple coleslaw and roasted sweet potato.

Celebrity judges for the event included Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; Robert Clarke, CEO of Irie Jam Radio; Chef Bruno Egea, executive chef for Resorts World Casino; Cedric Dew, executive director of the Jamaica YMCA; entertainer George Lamond; and Deputy Inspector Matthew Galvin French, a Culinary Institute graduate who has appeared on shows with Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray.

The contest was part of Resorts World Casino’s Community Fun Day filled with family-friendly activities.


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FDNY, NYPD to face off at Resorts World cooking competition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Resorts World Casino

The city’s Finest and Bravest are putting on their aprons, turning on the stoves and going head-to-head this weekend to see who has what it takes to be crowned a top chef.

Members of the FDNY and NYPD will show off their cooking skills this Sunday at Resorts World Casino, located at 110-00 Rockaway Blvd., for the Battle of the Badges: FDNY vs. NYPD Cook-off.

The contest, which will take place from noon to 5 p.m. and is free to the public, will be hosted by Ray Cooney, a former FDNY firefighter and host of PBS’s “Firehouse Kitchen” and will feature dishes prepared by 10 members of each team.

Celebrity judges for the event include Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; Robert Clarke, CEO of Irie Jam Radio; Chef Bruno Egea, executive chef for Resorts World Casino; Cedric Dew, executive director of the Jamaica YMCA; entertainer George Lamond; and Deputy Inspector Matthew Galvin French, a Culinary Institute graduate who has appeared on shows with Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray.

The winner of the cook-off will receive a Weber grill and a trip to Resorts World Casino Bimini in the Bahamas.

The contest is part of Resorts World Casino’s Community Fun Day on Sunday which features family-friendly activities, food trucks, musical entertainment, face painting, pony rides and games for all ages.

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Man dies in two-alarm inferno at Glen Oaks home


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Updated Monday, Aug. 17, 12:30 p.m.

Firefighters found a 58-year-old man dead in the basement of a Glen Oaks home following a two-alarm fire Thursday morning, according to police.

More than 100 firefighters and the 105th Precinct responded to the blaze that broke out at 6:29 a.m. at the home on 265th Street near 79th Avenue.

According to the FDNY, efforts to extinguish the flames were complicated after firefighters encountered “Collyers’ mansion” conditions — piles of debris throughout the home.

Once the fire was brought under control nearly two hours later, firefighters found the man — whose identity was withheld pending family notification — in the basement and removed him from the home; paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

His body was transported to the medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death.

According to the Fire Department, the blaze was believed to have been sparked by electrical problems. Reportedly, the home did not have a working smoke detector.

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Firefighters and chefs compete in Kew Gardens culinary competition


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Atria Kew Gardens

BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON

Atria Kew Gardens, a senior living facility in Kew Gardens, hosted a Culinary Competition Cook-Off on July 29 along with members of the Fire Department in celebration of National Culinary Arts Month.

Barry McWilliams, Richard Nerko and  Martin Vanschil, all firefighters and firehouse chefs from the Forest Hills fire station (Engine Co. 305 and Ladder Co. 151), competed against Atria Kew Gardens’ Director of Culinary Services Amanda Ciniglio and Chef Kevin Hernandez.

A crowd of Atria residents watched the competition and eagerly sampled each of the four appetizers the two teams made. The firefighters prepared guacamole, a hot spinach artichoke dip, salmon mousse on crackers and Moroccan carrot and beet salad. The Atria team also served guacamole, as well as salmon mousse on toast, a cold spinach artichoke dip and lemon ricotta with beet.

The Atria team won the cook-off — and a trophy — by a slim margin.

“They were very worthy competitors,” Ciniglio said. “They were very into their dishes. They took it very seriously, which was very nice. They really took pride in their food. They were so engaging with the residents, and the residents were so happy to have them. They were very good with them. The interactions were very good.”

In addition to the cook-off, Atria will also be celebrating National Culinary Arts Month by preparing recipes for the residents provided by the residents themselves.

As a token of appreciation for the firefighters’ visit and participation, the Atria Kew Gardens culinary team will be serving lunch and dinner at the firehouse during the following week, including a pork crown roast.

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Driver injured after train strikes truck in Maspeth


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

The driver of a tractor-trailer was hospitalized after his rig was struck by a train at a Maspeth railroad crossing early Wednesday morning, according to police.

Police said the accident occurred just before 1 a.m. in the area of Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street.

Reportedly, the New York and Atlantic Railway engine was traveling eastbound when it hit the truck that was on the four-track crossing on Maspeth Avenue. The impact caused the truck to burst into flames.

Officers from the 104th Precinct along with EMS and Fire Department units responded to the scene. The truck driver was taken to a local hospital and was listed in stable condition; no other injuries were reported.

An investigation is ongoing.

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Pols call for rejection of resubmitted proposal for Pan Am homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The fight continues for Elmhurst community members who continue to stand together hoping the city will again reject the proposal to convert the former Pan American Hotel into a permanent homeless shelter, which was resubmitted last month.

Local elected officials gathered with residents and community activists on Tuesday morning outside the facility to call for the rejection of Samaritan Village’s proposal that would turn the emergency shelter into a permanent one.

“We cannot address the growing homeless population at the expense of homeless families and children, or the community as a whole,” said state Senator Tony Avella, who previously voiced his opposition of the homeless shelter and its conditions. “We must look to fix this broken system.”

The emergency homeless shelter at the former hotel was supposed to close last December, yet even after facing large opposition from community members, an application was submitted to convert it into a permanent shelter under a five-year, $42 million contract with the Department of Homeless Services.

In May, the proposal was rejected by the office of Comptroller Scott Stringer due to health and safety concerns, such as fire code violations and lack of kitchen facilities in the units, but it was resubmitted on June 12 and now Stringer must decide to accept or reject it by next week.

“Mr. Stringer, as an elected official, as a civil servant and as the comptroller of the city of New York, we demand that you permanently reject the Pan Am contract,” said Anna Orjuela, a member of Elmhurst United and an Elmhurst resident for more than 30 years. “It is time for you to restore the people’s faith in our system of government and remind everyone that no one is above the law, regardless of their wealth, title or position of power.”

During Tuesday’s rally, elected officials also urged the state Assembly to pass companion legislation to state Senator Jeff Klein’s bill, which would require the city’s Planning Commission to hold a public community forum before the approval, modification or rejection of a homeless shelter site. The bill has already passed in the state Senate.

This process would allow community members to learn about the shelter and also provide their input on the idea, according to Klein.

“This situation is playing out across the city. An emergency homeless shelter moves into a neighborhood without community input and then the city seeks to make it permanent. This is simply unacceptable,” Klein said. “The residents of this community deserve to be heard, and the residents in this family shelter who live with rat infestations, improper garbage disposal and other serious health violations deserve better.”

Last week, grassroots organization Elmhurst United, which has been voicing its opposition to the shelter since day one, sent out a newsletter looking to inform local residents as to why the shelter is not suitable for the community and also encourage people to reach out to their elected officials.

In the newsletter, the group highlights issues such as School District 24 being the most overcrowded in the city, lack of a child care facility at the site, numerous FDNY violations, a façade violation, and much more.

“Everyone should care about what happens in their neighborhood,” the newsletter reads. “Speak up now before it is too late. Once the contract is signed, it becomes a much harder fight.”

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Op-ed: End critical delays in EMS response time


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The need for our EMS to be unparalleled here in New York City is increasingly great. As a city, we must make critical policy changes that will decrease response time and save lives. This February, the average response time to life-threatening medical emergencies in Queens was 10 minutes and 15 seconds, which is not acceptable.

The City Council passed a law that would track end-to-end response times for both fire and medical emergencies, and further require the FDNY to report that response time. New Yorkers need to know the truth. This involves recording not only the time it took for an emergency unit to be dispatched, but also the time it took to process the call.

The law was named for Ariel Russo who was tragically killed when she was struck by a reckless driver trying to evade the police. After the crash, there was a clear error in dispatching an EMS unit and emergency personnel lost at least four critical minutes. The “Ariel Russo Emergency 9-1-1 Response Time Reporting Act” now provides a more transparent record of response times.

Last year, two young siblings, Ayina and Jai’Launi Tinglin, were killed in a Far Rockaway fire. EMS personnel did not reach the scene until 20 minutes after the call was received. The city found that personnel errors preceding the dispatch caused delays in reaching the children, but we see this as only half of the truth. Reports from dangerous, deadly fires have shown that the FDNY only dispatches ambulances after an FDNY unit on the scene confirms it is a structural fire. In this case, had the need for EMS to wait not existed, they could have been dispatched more than six minutes earlier. A lack of resources is likely the main reason the FDNY delays the EMS dispatch.

We believe the FDNY must dispatch EMS units once the report of a structural fire comes in through 9-1-1 and make it part of the many units dispatched within a first-alarm fire.
The FDNY again wasted critical time by waiting to dispatch EMS during a structural fire in Midwood. The fire killed seven children in the Sassoon family: David, Yehoshua, Moshe, Yaakov, Eliane, Rivka and Sarah. It took nearly 14 minutes for EMS to get to the scene.

We write this op-ed to call on the fire department to make three critical policy changes that would reduce response times and improve the level of pre-hospital care.

First, the fire department must change its dispatch policy and immediately send an ambulance upon receipt of a 9-1-1 call reporting a structural fire as part of a “first-alarm.”
Second, we need to greatly expand the number of department ambulance tours. This is the surest way to reduce response times, and the additional tours managed correctly will not only save lives but could also generate revenue for the city.

Lastly, in order to increase department professionalism, promotional civil service exams must be instituted for upper-ranking officers, just like those for the fire department’s firefighters and other public safety agencies. This would also bring the city into compliance with federal and state guidelines to ensure emergency scenes are properly and efficiently handled.

Our EMS personnel work every day to keep us alive, and for that they deserve not only our unconditional gratitude but effective procedures to abide by. Let’s make our EMS stronger for today and always.

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Man falls into LIC sidewalk grate while trying to retrieve keys


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@Appleguysnake

Updated 2:52 p.m. 

Authorities had to rescue a man after he reportedly fell down a sidewalk grate in Long Island City Tuesday morning after slipping off a ladder he placed into the grate while attempting to retrieve his keys.

According to the MTA, at about 11:30 a.m. a man dropped his keys into the sidewalk grating in front of 24-20 Jackson Ave. just above the Court Square subway station. The man, who has not been identified, then opened the grate and placed an A-frame ladder into the grate. While climbing down the ladder he lost his footing and fell.

The man suffered minor head and leg injuries and after fire officials got him out of the hole, he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital, the FDNY said.

There is no visual defect to the grate and it was secured after the incident, according to the MTA.

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Five-alarm inferno in Queens Village amid stormy weather


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@FDNY

Updated Monday, June 1, 11:24 a.m.

Firefighters battled a five-alarm inferno at a Queens Village commercial building Sunday night amid wild weather that caused street closures borough-wide due to flooding.

According to the FDNY, the blaze broke out at about 6:30 p.m. on the ground floor of the warehouse located in the area of 218th Street and 98th Avenue.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the city were battling the inferno, which was upgraded to a five-alarm fire at about 8:47 p.m. Sunday. No injuries were reported, and the blaze was brought under control about four hours later.

The 109th Precinct tweeted that the odor of heavy smoke from the fire wafted across northeast Queens. Residents in the Queens Village area were advised to keep their windows closed and limit outdoor activity until the smoke dissipated.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, as thunderstorms carrying torrential rains rolled through the city, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reported numerous road closures due to flooding.

As of 9:01 p.m. Sunday night, the OEM reported flooding forced the closure of the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway at Union Turnpike in Glendale and the Long Island Expressway at Utopia Parkway in Fresh Meadows. Both roads have since reopened.

The 104th Precinct also reported that part of Cypress Avenue at Vermont Place in Glendale was closed after a sinkhole developed at a construction site.

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Richmond Hill firehouse celebrates 100th anniversary


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of FDNY

BY ANGELA MATUA

Fire Department brass gathered at the headquarters of Engine Company 294 and Ladder Company 143 in Richmond Hill Wednesday to celebrate the firehouse’s 100th anniversary.

The firehouse opened in 1915 when the FDNY decided to expand to all five boroughs.

“The people who live in this community care for our department deeply and their admiration drives us all to be better every single day,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

Past and present firefighters stationed at this house, which primarily serves Richmond Hill, have been recognized at the site for individual acts of valor. Mark Janesky from Engine 249 and Arthur Shaw from Ladder 143 received the house’s first medals in 1922 when they rescued people trapped in a fire on Atlantic Avenue.

At the ceremony, two firefighters from Engine 249 who died in the line of duty were honored with a plaque. Members discovered that Firefighter Arnold Hafner, who died in 1955, and Robert Denney, who died in 1960, did not have their own plaques in the firehouse, but now their names will join three lieutenants who sacrificed their lives to help others.

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“We remember their names always on the walls of this house,” Chief of Department James Leonard said. “It’s important to remember them today especially because their memory inspires us.”

Captains James Raymond of Engine Company 294 and William McCarthy of Ladder Company 143 congratulated the current members for their service and their efforts to celebrate the history of the firehouse.

“Our traditions must be carried on to all those that come after us,” McCarthy said.

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Jackson Heights residents call National Grid a ‘bad neighbor’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated 5:20 p.m.

Residents on one Jackson Heights street are calling on National Grid to be a good neighbor and take care of “dangerous” holes left unattended for weeks after digging was started last month to work on gas pipe updates.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and residents on 80th Street gathered on the block Tuesday morning to speak out against holes created by the utility company that were left ignored for weeks.

The holes, which measure about 13 feet by 3 feet and go as deep as three to six feet, were dug by National Grid in April to start renovations on underground gas lines. However, residents said that in the beginning of May work just stopped and the holes were left uncovered and surrounded by barriers and cones, most of which fell into the holes.

“The damage they have done to this street makes you understand that National Grid is a bad neighbor. You don’t come into communities, dig up streets, leave piles of dirt and then leave the exposed pipes open to all types of foul play, to children falling into them, and then not respond to the community,” Dromm said. “We are here today to demand that National Grid minimally put plates over this, fix this work, and ensure the safety of the community is taken care of here.”

Dromm added that his office communicated with National Grid several times, but no fixes have been made. The councilman said he even left his personal number and never received a call back.

Some residents expressed concerns that they have seen children playing in the holes, and others said the exposed gas lines have been letting out gaseous odors.

A Courier reporter on the scene also smelled gas odors coming out of one of the holes.

“The unfinished repair work initiated by National Grid on April 17, 2015, has not only resulted in a trip and fall hazard to pedestrians but has made us nervous because we were told originally the construction was to remedy a gas leak,” said Ricky Castro, co-op board vice president. “Despite many complaints we have received no answers about why we smell gas and if it’s safe.”

Castro added that last weekend when it rained, water filled the holes and caused the basement of one of the apartment buildings, which has storage units belonging to residents, to flood.

According to residents, National Grid workers showed up Tuesday morning but no work was being done. They also added that they have called the FDNY, Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection and were told National Grid is responsible for the holes.

A spokeswoman for National Grid said the company is committed  to ensuring the safety of the public.

She added the company is using industry-approved methods to secure the work site and have the appropriate work permits. Also, National Grid is conducting daily surveys of the area to maintain safety until the repairs are completed.

“We apologize for the inconvenience but the work is necessary to ensure a safe and reliable gas system for the community,” the spokeswoman said. “Last month during an investigation we detected a gas leak and made arrangements to schedule the repairs, working around parking restrictions on the block.”

She added the gas lines had been replaced on the street and now each home in three buildings has to be transferred to the new service lines. The company is working to notify everyone in the buildings.

Crews are expected to be on site starting Wednesday through the end of the week to complete the work and have the holes filled.

Residents are urged to call 911 or National Grid’s Gas emergency number, 718-643-4050.

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City to deploy ‘shelter repair squad’ to fix homeless shelter issues


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Five city agencies are coming together to investigate and solve the issues faced at over 500 homeless shelters throughout the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the city will deploying hundreds of “special SWAT teams” — made up of employees from the FDNY, Department of Buildings, Department of Homeless Services, Department of Health and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development — to accelerate the process of repairs at homeless shelters all over New York City.

“These SWAT teams are necessary because we aren’t dealing with a problem that just started in the last year or two, we’re dealing with a problem that is decades old and has gotten worse for several reasons,” de Blasio said. “This city has seen a homelessness crisis that in the last decade went from a very troubling level to an absolutely unacceptable level.”

According to the mayor, 56,000 people are currently living in shelters, and although that number is down from 59,000 people a few months ago, there is still much more to be done.

The implementation of the inter-agency shelter repair squad comes after de Blasio received a report from the Department of Investigation two months ago that put forth the unhealthy conditions at the city shelters. The DOI found 25 shelters that required immediate attention, and those have since had almost all violations addressed.

One of those shelters included the Corona Family Residence, where de Blasio made the announcement Monday afternoon. This facility had violations such as smoke detector problems and rodent infestations.

The squads will go out to individual shelters, identify the problems and solutions to them, then reach out to various departments and agencies that could find the resources to correct the conditions. Typical violations — such as broken or missing smoke detectors — will be expected to be fixed within a seven-day period after being identified. Some of the more complicated capital repairs will begin in about 30 days with a plan of completion within the calendar year.

Along with the squad, there will also be an accountability system put into place where members of the public will be able to track the city’s progress through online scorecards.

“Every effort is being made to reduce the number of health and safety violations within DHS shelters, and the creation of the shelter repair squad will provide immeasurable support to us in these efforts,” DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor said. “This engagement is truly reflective of our city’s collective responsibility, serving our most vulnerable New Yorkers. These measures will indeed help DHS to overcome the many years of neglect that our city shelter system has been subjected to.”

Last week, de Blasio also announced that in the city’s 2016 $78.3 billion budget $100 million will go toward homeless prevention and assistance, including rental support, anti-eviction and legal services, and more. The budget will also include $4.7 million to expand the number of shelter beds for runaway and homeless youth by another 100, while enhancing mental health services.

For Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who attended the Monday announcement, the issues residents have to live with at these homeless shelters hit close to his heart because his family once lived in a shelter. Van Bramer said that many of the issues the families are facing are the same as those his family faced years ago.

“Every family that comes to [a] shelter is in a state of crisis in one way or another, but the fact that they found shelter means that they are on the path to recovery, like my family. So going to [a] shelter is the first step, in many cases, to making it out of [the] shelter,” Van Bramer said. “But when you get to that shelter, it should be a place where any New Yorker could live because it’s about dignity and it’s about knowing that you matter, your lives matter, your children matter.”

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College Point to celebrate Memorial Day with 11-year-old Poppy Queen


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Feehan family

This year’s Memorial Day Parade in College Point has a pretty Poppy Queen with a patriotic heritage.

Julia Elizabeth Feehan, a fifth-grader at a local Catholic school, is a talented young performance artist who enjoys acting, singing and dancing, and both her paternal and maternal grandfathers served in the U.S. Army.

“I enjoy the spotlight sometimes so it’s nice to do that and honor the soldiers at the same time,” Feehan said.

Her paternal grandfather, William Feehan, was a veteran of the Korean War who served from 1951 to 1953. He spent his professional years after 1959 as a New York City firefighter until he lost his life as a first deputy fire commissioner responding to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Feehan’s maternal grandfather, Bob Fetonte, served in the U.S. Army in 1961 and was honorably discharged.

Julia’s father, John, was also involved in public service, serving as a corpsman in the Army Reserve from 1999 to 2003 with Fleet Hospital in Fort Dix. He is now a chief in the FDNY.

The grand marshal of the parade will be Army veteran Louis A. Di Agostino. Di Agostino was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart after serving in the Korean War, and he will be leading the way for marching bands, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the First Reformed Church, among other youth groups and service organizations.

The parade is set to start at 2 p.m. on May 24.

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Fire breaks out inside Pan American homeless shelter


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated 3:35 p.m.

No injuries were reported after a one-alarm fire ignited early Wednesday morning inside the homeless shelter at the former Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst, fire department sources said.

The blaze started at about 1:54 a.m. inside a third-floor unit of the seven-story structure at 79-00 Queens Blvd. Firefighters responded to the scene and quickly extinguished the flames.

According to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the entire facility was evacuated after the fire broke out, and families were allowed to return once firefighters brought the situation under control. The family residing in the burned unit was transferred to another facility until repairs are made.

Coincidentally, the fire happened on the deadline date that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Office of Temporary and Permanent Assistance set last week for the DHS to remediate violations at the Pan American and other homeless shelters in operation across the city.

As reported last week, community residents reported seeing rats looking for food in a trash pile outside the shelter. A NY Daily News investigation also revealed that many of the units — some of which house as many as five people at a time — are infested with cockroaches.

The DHS did not comment on the governor’s deadline in an email to The Courier.

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