Tag Archives: Fire

Corona man arrested for drunk driving on LIRR tracks in LIC

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of MTA PD

This guy took joy riding to a whole new level.

Ronny Mora, 25, of Corona was arrested Sunday night for allegedly driving his car while intoxicated on LIRR tracks in Long Island City and only coming to a stop after his car burst into flames upon striking a third rail, authorities said.

According to a criminal complaint, police were informed by a LIRR employee that on Sept. 20 between 10:45 and 11:43 p.m. he saw a 2011 Nissan Juke enter the train yard at the intersection of Borden Avenue and 11th Street. The employee added that he then saw the car drive eastbound on the track for about 3.25 miles.

The employee then saw the vehicle stop, and a man – later identified as Mora – exited the car and walked westbound on the track, authorities said.

Police then responded to a call of a vehicle stalled on the track and upon arrival saw the vehicle on fire.

A supervisor of transportation for the LIRR informed police that the train yard is enclosed by a fence to prevent intruders.

Cops later saw Mora sitting on the side of the tracks inside the train yard near the intersection of Borden Avenue and 11th Street. An officer noticed that Mora had bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, according to the criminal complaint.

The 25-year-old then allegedly admitted, “I had one beer, I drove my car onto the track, I’m sorry. I saw it sparking so I left.”

Mora was taken to the 112th Precinct stationhouse in Forest Hills, where he was administered an Intoxilyzer exam that indicated he had a blood alcohol level of 0.164 percent, well above the legal 0.08 limit.

According to the MTA, the fire forced the LIRR to suspend service between Penn Station and Jamaica for almost three hours while the FDNY extinguished the flames and LIRR personnel repaired the third rail – which suffered damages exceeding $1,500 and create a risk for serious injury to passengers on trains.

Mora faces charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting property damage.


Mother and son arrested after her boyfriend found shot, set on fire in Astoria

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 1, 4:18 p.m. 

An Astoria woman enlisted the help of her children this weekend to get rid of the body of her boyfriend, whom she shot twice after a dispute over infidelity and money, according to authorities.

Dawn McIntosh, 46, has been charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon, tampering with physical evidence and endangering the welfare of a child alongside her 21-year-old son Donte Watkins, who has been charged with tampering with physical evidence, in connection to the death of 43-year-old Shron McWhorter.

If convicted, McIntosh, who was ordered held without bail at her arraignment on Tuesday, faces up to 25 years to life in prison and her son, held on $5,000 bail, faces up to four years in prison. Both were ordered to return to court on Sept. 15.

Police found McWhorter’s body on fire after receiving a 911 call regarding an unconscious man in the rear of a location on 14th Street in Astoria at about 6:57 a.m. Saturday. After the FDNY extinguished the flames, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Investigators also discovered that McWhorter had been shot two times, once in the chest and the other  in the torso.

The victim’s body was also so badly burned that investigators could only identify McWhorter by a “Sugar Sha” tattoo on his left arm, according to published reports.

McWhorter, who is from Brooklyn, and McIntosh were in a relationship and had been arguing over problems of infidelity and money prior to the shooting, police said.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, after shooting the victim McIntosh asked her children — 15-year-old Zanasia McIntosh and 21-year-old Watkins – for help in disposing of McWhorter’s body. Watkins is charged for trying to lift the body into his mother’s Jeep after she asked him to do it.

“The defendant is accused of a particularly heinous crime in which she fatally shot her boyfriend and  then tampered with evidence by, among other things, setting the deceased’s body on fire. At the same time, it is alleged that she enlisted the aid of her teenage daughter and adult son in an attempt to cover up her involvement in the crime,” Brown said.

McIntosh allegedly then lit McWhorter’s body on fire, disposed of the firearm used to shoot him, washed the bloody clothes she had been wearing during the shooting, and moved McWhorter’s car from the crime scene to the street.

According to published reports, upon investigating the scene, authorities found a fingernail on the victim’s body and during questioning an investigator noticed McIntosh had only nine out of 10 fingernails.

McIntosh later provided information admitting to shooting McWhorter, police sources said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version, based on information provided by the NYPD, incorrectly identified Dawn McIntosh and Donte Watkins as siblings instead of mother and son, and also initially had the victim’s name as Shawn instead of Shron. We regret any confusion that may have resulted. 


Two dead in Far Rockaway house fire

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYScanner

Updated Monday, Aug. 24, 9:06 a.m.

Two people died in a Far Rockaway blaze Sunday afternoon after firefighters had a difficult time reaching the victims due to cluttered conditions in the house, the FDNY said.

The flames broke out at about 1 p.m. on the first floor of the two-story home at 22-60 Cornaga Ave., authorities said. The fire was under control by 2:50 p.m.

According to an FDNY spokesman, firefighters were delayed in their search of the home because of debris they encountered.

In addition to the two deaths, seven firefighters suffered minor injuries and were taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.

The identities of the deceased have not been released. The cause is under investigation.


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.


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.


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.


Two-alarm fire breaks out at Whitestone shopping center

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos and video courtesy of Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association

An early morning fire at Whitestone Commons left at least two businesses significantly damaged, reports said.

The blaze started about 6 a.m. at the shopping complex, located on 14th Avenue near Clintonville Street.

Firefighters were able to put out the flames about an hour later, the FDNY said.

At least two businesses were affected by the fire, Bagel Time and a clothing store called Prive, according to Devon O’Connor of the Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association, and photos from the scene. He said they appeared to be badly damaged.

No one was reported injured.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the FDNY would not confirm where it started.




Doctored device causes fire at Bayside High School

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Fire at BS HS

Updated 2:49 p.m.

There was a little Monday morning madness for Bayside High School students.

Sixty firefighters and additional police officers responded to a fire caused by a device in a classroom on the first floor of the building at 32-24 Corporal Kennedy St., leading to the evacuation of hundreds of students.

The device was a cellphone strapped to two batteries located in a locker in the classroom, police said. The bomb squad was called to investigate the device, and determined it was “not suspicious.” Authorities believe it was a homemade cellphone charger.

Fire officials were called around 10 a.m. and put the flames out at about 11:30 a.m., according to the FDNY. No one was reported hurt, authorities said.

Students evacuated from the school were taken to local middle and elementary schools, but were transported back to Bayside High around 2 p.m.



Two dead in fiery crash in front of Queens high school

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Updated Tuesday, April 7, 10:27 a.m.

Two people were killed early Sunday morning after their car crashed into scaffolding in front of Jamaica’s Thomas A. Edison High School and burst into flames, police said.

A Nissan Maxima was traveling eastbound on the Grand Central Parkway service road about 4:25 a.m. when it lost control coming off the roadway, authorities said. The vehicle then struck scaffolding located outside of the school at 65-65 84th Ave. and the car caught on fire.

According to witnesses, the vehicle was speeding when it crashed, police said.

Once responding FDNY personnel were able to extinguish the flames, officers found two people inside the vehicle. They were both pronounced dead at the scene.

Police did not immediately release their identities.


Man found dead in Richmond Hill house following fire

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

An unidentified man was discovered dead in a vacant Richmond Hill house early Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in the home, authorities said.

The blaze started at about 1:15 a.m. in the attic of the three-story residence on Lefferts Boulevard, near 95th Avenue, according to the FDNY.

Firefighters were able to control the flames by 1:50 a.m., and EMS soon found an unconscious man inside the home, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.



Tenant charged with attempted murder, arson in fire that destroyed eight Woodhaven homes

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the FDNY

Updated Monday, March 23, 12:41 p.m.


A man was arrested for allegedly setting a fire that caused eight houses in Woodhaven to go up in flames on Wednesday night because his landlord had just evicted him.

Luis Lopez, 30, a tenant at 91-21 90th St., where the blaze started, was arraigned on Friday on charges of second-degree attempted murder, second-degree arson, endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated cruelty to animals in connection to the fire that left eight injured and killed two dogs, the Queens district attorney’s office said. Lopez, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, was being held on $100,000 bond, according to court records. His next court date is April 7.

“The defendant is charged with setting a fire that could have killed numerous people and did take the lives of two dogs — all because the defendant was allegedly angry about being evicted from his apartment,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Arson is a serious crime and the defendant now faces spending a considerable amount of time in prison.”

On Wednesday, at about 8 p.m., Lopez was ordered to vacate the premises of where he was living, according to officials. About 10 minutes later, the landlord and her boyfriend smelled smoke. The door was blocked from the other side and it took them several attempts to escape from their basement apartment, prosecutors said. As the two fled, they saw smoke and an orange glow coming from Lopez’s first-floor bedroom.

By the time firefighters arrived at the two-story home, the flames had spread to the roof and adjacent residences.

The Courier/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The Courier/Photo by Salvatore Licata

About 39 units and 168 members responded to the blaze, which left six residents and two firefighters with minor injuries. The fire also displaced more than 60 individuals, officials said.

“The investigative work by our fire marshals resulted in the timely arrest of this suspect,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “Setting a fire is a serious crime with potentially deadly consequences. Fortunately there was no loss of life at this incident, but tragically the quick moving fire destroyed eight homes before being brought under control.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblyman Mike Miller and Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens (CCBQ) announced on Friday the creation of a special relief fund by CCBQ to help the families affected by the fire.

Donations will go toward providing essentials including gift cards to local supermarkets, clothing, replacement household furniture and other necessities. Monetary donations can be made payable to CCBQ online at www.ccbq.org or by mail. Contributions should designate “Woodhaven Fire Victims” in the memo. For more information contact CCBQ’s Office of Development & Communications at 718-722-6202.

“We cannot erase what occurred, but this fund will help these families work towards rebuilding for a better tomorrow,” Miller said. “We ask the community to help in any way they can to assist these residents in this time of need.”


Four-alarm fire tears through Woodhaven homes, injures eight

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Updated 3:11 p.m.


A four-alarm fire broke out in a Woodhaven home Wednesday night, tearing through several neighboring houses and injuring eight people, the FDNY said.

The smell of ash filled the air as firefighters and first responders started to clean up some debris on Thursday morning from the fire-stricken houses that were ripped through by flames the night before.

The blaze started at about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday on the first floor of a two-story private home at 91-21 90th St., near 91st Avenue, according to fire officials. It was raised to four alarms by about 8:45 p.m and spread to the second floor and attic area.

Photos courtesy of FDNY

Photos courtesy of FDNY

As about 168 firefighters tried to control the flames, the fire spread from the house to seven other homes that all share a common attic area, according to published reports.

Walls of many of the houses were still intact but the attics were ripped through and daylight could be seen coming through the roof from the torn out windows of many houses.

Eight people, including two firefighters, were hurt in the blaze, the FDNY said. All the injuries were minor.

The Red Cross was at the scene of the fire, where it assisted 20 adults and eight children with temporary lodging and emergency funds for food and clothing.

“Our teams will ensure that the emergency needs of those impacted are met — temporary lodging, food, clothing, emergency financial assistance and emotional support,” said the Red Cross in a statement.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who urged the passing of state legislation calling for an end to cocklofts in aging row houses in a statement following Wednesday night’s fire, will be providing drop-off sites for those affected by the blaze. He previously trumpeted the legislation following a September 2013 fire in Middle Village that severely damaged six attached homes.

Donations of clothing and other essential items can be dropped off at the senator’s Middle Village office at 66-85 73rd Pl., and Howard Beach office at 159-53 102nd St.

The cause is still under investigation.


77-year-old woman found dead in Rockaway fire

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

Updated 2:41 p.m.

An elderly woman was killed Saturday afternoon after an accidental fire sparked by a cigarette broke out in her Rockaway Beach apartment, authorities said.

The blaze started about 1:35 p.m. on the seventh floor of a building at 107-10 Shore Front Pkwy., according to the FDNY. Firefighters were able to control the flames, which were contained to one apartment, by about 2:15 p.m.

Inside the residence, they found a 77-year-old woman, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police did not immediately release the victim’s identity.

No other injuries were reported.

The FDNY said the cause of the fire was smoking and that there were no working smoke alarms in the apartment.


Jackson Heights fire caused by food on stove: FDNY

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@nicky_andacatnamedmishu

A fire at a Jackson Heights apartment, which injured two people last week, was caused by food left on a stove, according to fire officials

The two-alarm blaze began at 11:33 p.m. on Feb. 12 on the top floor of 35-64 81st St. and was under control about an hour later, the FDNY said.

The two injured people were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with serious, non-life-threatening injuries.

Fire officials also found no working smoke detectors in the home.


Three hurt in St. Albans house blaze

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

Updated Monday, Feb. 16, 10:31 a.m.

Firefighters and a neighbor rushed to help the residents of a St. Albans home after a fire broke out in the two-story house early Saturday morning, published reports said.

A space heater ignited the blaze in the basement of the residence on 119th Road near 178th Street about 5:40 a.m., according to the FDNY. There were no working smoke detectors in the home.

Next-door neighbor Lawrence Leone saw the smoke streaming out of the house and, along with his brother, grabbed a ladder to try and rescue the people still inside, reports said.

The smoke had consumed the first floor and the only way the residents could escape was through the second story, Leone told CBS New York.

“I grabbed the ladder so I could put it by the roof so they could be able to climb down,” he said.

One person jumped to safety, another was able to get down on his own, and a third was too scared to use the ladder and had to be rescued by firefighters, according to published reports.

The residents were taken to Nassau University Medical Center in stable condition.