Tag Archives: Fire

Bay Terrace blaze during snowstorm caused by unattended candle: FDNY


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video via Vine/FDNY

A burning candle left unattended in a Bay Terrace home during Monday’s snowstorm sparked a fire that ripped through the second floor of the building, fire officials said.

Video footage posted by the FDNY shows the flames shooting from the second floor and roof of 15-62 Waters Edge Dr.


The fire started about 8:30 p.m. Monday at the private residence amid a blizzard warning and as snow was falling. Windy conditions made it more difficult for firefighters to battle the two-alarm blaze, according to police. It took 105 firefighters until about 10:15 p.m. to control the flames.

No injuries were reported.

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Fire breaks out at Bay Terrace home during snowstorm


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/109th Precinct

Windy conditions from a blizzard that was blasting the area Monday night helped fuel a fire that broke out at a Bay Terrace home, authorities said.

The two-alarm blaze started about 8:30 p.m. on the second floor of 15-62 Waters Edge Dr., the FDNY said, eventually spreading to the roof of the two-story private home.

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It took 105 firefighters until about 10:15 p.m. to control the flames after high winds made conditions more difficult, according to the FDNY and 109th Precinct.

No injuries were reported. The cause is still under investigation.

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Oakland Gardens man pleads guilty to setting fire to pal’s Little Neck apartment


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

fire

What’s a fire between friends?

For one Oakland Gardens man, it could mean some serious prison time.

Ezra Barashy, 26, pleaded guilty to third-degree arson Tuesday for setting fire to his friend’s Little Neck basement apartment this summer, according to the district attorney’s office. In his plea, he admitted to intentionally tossing a Molotov cocktail at the home of his pal.

Surveillance video shows Barashy approaching his friend’s residence on Aug. 22 with a gas can and running to a waiting car, the district attorney’s office said. Inside the car was his friend’s girlfriend. Barashy had known both of them for several years and allegedly drove the girlfriend to and from the crime scene shortly before 7 a.m.

Barashy’s friend woke up when the Molotov cocktail set his apartment door on fire. He put out the blaze with a pot of water.

The arson incident isn’t the first time that Barashy has been in trouble with the law, according to the district attorney’s office.

In 2009, he pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree for shooting at the home of a Queens Supreme Court judge in October 2008. Barashy was sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

Barashy is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 10 for the arson plea. The judge indicated on Tuesday she would hand down a sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

“The defendant has pleaded guilty to having set a fire that could have been deadly, if not for the quick-thinking actions of the victim,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendant, who has already served time for firing shots at the home of a Queens Supreme Court judge, will be going back to prison and the public will be safe from his violent tendencies.”

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Fire guts Whitestone home, kills family’s beloved dogs


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ray Colalillo

Flames gutted a Whitestone house on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the three-story home a smoldering shell and taking the lives of the owners’ two pet dogs.

“My two dogs were killed and they were the most valuable things I had,” said James King, who with his wife owned the house at 149-61 Powells Cove Blvd.

King and his wife were out of the house when the Fire Department called him about the fire.

But the couple’s shih tzu dogs, Benjamin and Chip, were inside the home, where they died in the blaze.

According to neighbor Ray Colalillo, the fire started in the rear of the home, which faces the East River, at 1:30 p.m. and quickly moved through the front of the building as strong winds stoked the flames. The Fire Department characterized the fire as a “two-alarm” blaze, and it took an hour for firefighters to extinguish the fire. When the firefighters arrived, they swiftly broke through the front windows and jumped into the blazing home, according to Colalillo.

Photo courtesy of Whitestone Civic Association

Photo courtesy of Whitestone Civic Association

“At first I saw smoke from my window,” Colalillo said. “And then pretty soon flames were bursting out of the windows and skylights. By then I called the cops. Within five minutes firefighters were here and they moved quick.”

The Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire. King’s son and daughter, who are now adults and no longer live at the house, looked on as firefighters picked through the wreckage of the home they grew up in.

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Online fundraisers set up to help Astoria roommates after fire destroys home


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Duncan Pflaster

In less than half an hour Andrew Rothkin, Kim Jones and Duncan Pflaster lost the place they have called home for more than five years after a fire ripped through their Astoria apartment early Wednesday afternoon.

Pflaster, an administrative assistant and also a playwright and photographer, said he received a call from Jones at around 1 p.m. Wednesday telling him he needed to come home because as she was out running errands their 35th Street apartment had been engulfed in flames.

Their roommate, Rothkin, had been home alone and his space heater caught on fire, Pflaster said. Rothkin was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital with severe second- and third-degree burns and smoke inhalation, but was released Friday and will recuperate with his family in Baltimore.

According to the FDNY, a call for the fire was received at 10:48 a.m. and about 60 firefighters arrived at the two-story home with the fire at the rear of the first floor. The blaze was under control at 11:20 a.m. One firefighter sustained minor injuries.

“When I saw the mess, the state of everything, it was just this horrible sinking feeling. When I was allowed to go up and see, it was just terrible,” Pflaster said about what he saw once he got home.

According to Pflaster, the apartment is destroyed, and every window had to be broken by the FDNY. There are holes in the ceilings and walls, and Rothkin’s room was “gutted,” causing him to lose everything — even his cat, Pepper.

“I think I was in shock for a bit. A lot of it was strangely beautiful: holes in the ceiling give a lovely light,” Pflaster said. “There was a lot of just standing around not knowing how to even begin to clean up.”

Yet, even in these tough times a light has shone through the darkness for the three roommates from online fundraisers, started by friends, that have raised thousands in just one day.

Three separate accounts have been created on gofundme.com for Rothkin, Jones and Pflaster to help them recover from the fire and also raise enough money to sign a lease on a new apartment. In total the fundraisers have raised more than $25,000 since Friday.

“It is just wonderful. People have been so generous. People I haven’t seen in years, people I think didn’t really like me, everyone has done what they can,” Pflaster said. “It’s incredibly moving and I keep tearing up when I think of so many people who have helped out.”

Pflaster, who was able to recover some clothes and other items, is staying with friends in Astoria until he finds a new place. He also said he has had offers of furniture, clothes and gift cards.

When asked what he would tell all those who have been helping them out during this time, Pflater said, “Thank you so much. It’s been such a relief in this horrifying time. We all appreciate your support so much.”

To donate to the gofundme campaigns, visit www.gofundme.com/andrewrothkin, www.gofundme.com/jvt5oc or www.gofundme.com/jwpczs. A Facebook page has also been created for the friends.

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Fire safety education campaign launched at LeFrak City following fatal New Year’s Eve blaze


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A new campaign has been launched at LeFrak City to help educate residents to prevent a tragedy like the New Year’s Eve fire, which killed three people, from occurring again.

Just minutes before ringing in 2015, an unattended pot of a traditional Haitian soup cooking on a stove sparked a fire that left three dead in their Corona apartment and sent flames shooting from the ninth-floor balcony, officials said.

The FDNY determined the blaze was accidental, and no working smoke detectors were found in the home.

Police identified the victims, all residents of the apartment, as Nadia Donnay, 37, Louise Jean-Charles, 59, and Napolean Michel, 69.

In response to the fire, state Sen. Jose Peralta, together with the FDNY, LeFrak City Organization and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, announced on Thursday the launch of a fire safety education campaign for the apartment complex. 

“New Yorkers awoke on New Year’s Day to news of the horrific tragedy that struck LeFrak City just as we were all ringing in 2015 and looking forward to the promise the new year held for us and our loved ones,” Peralta said.

During this campaign, the FDNY will conduct fire safety education presentations for tenants on Jan. 14 and Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Continental Room of the Rome Tower of LeFrak City, located at 96-10 57th Ave. 

Food Bazaar Supermarkets donated $500 worth of smoke detector batteries, which will be available to tenants who attend the presentations, made possible by the FDNY Foundation.

“The lesson from the fire is that a working smoke alarm can be a life-saving piece of home safety equipment,” Peralta said. “An operating smoke detector provides a quick and early warning, providing the extra few seconds needed to escape a fire and potential tragedy.”

According to Gerald Rivera, general manager of LeFrak City Maintenance Services, owners are required to periodically replace smoke detectors upon expiration of their life, which is about 10 years. The replacements must then have a non-removable and non-replaceable battery that gives power to the alarm for a minimum of 10 years.

“LeFrak City has a proactive program to replace all campus detectors over a two-year period, a full year in advance of the required deadline,” Rivera said. “Since December 2013, we have replaced 1,600 of the old smoke detectors and will complete all remaining 3,006 replacements by the end of 2015.”

Malikah K. Shabazz, a tenant and president of the LeFrak City Tenants’ Association, said she will inform other tenants about the presentation by working with management to post notices on each floor and in the lobby, and send emails reminding people.

“We get comfortable and take a lot of things for granted and a lot of times we have to constantly be reminded to take precautions when you’re cooking or whatever you are doing that uses flame. You just have to be very careful,” Shabazz said. “It’s a blessing for them to come into our community and assist us in any way that they can.”

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Deadly Jamaica house fire caused by extension cords: FDNY


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

A Jamaica house blaze that killed one man and left his 89-year-old mother injured was an accidental fire sparked by extension cords, the FDNY said.

The electrical fire broke out at about 3:30 a.m. Monday in the basement of a single-family home on 118th Road near Marsden Street, authorities said. It took firefighters until about 5:10 a.m. to put out the flames.

There were no working smoke detectors in the two-story house, according to the FDNY.

A 64-year-old man was taken to Queens Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said. His mother was transported to Franklin Hospital in stable condition.

A third person refused medical attention at the scene.

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Victims of Ozone Park 5-alarm fire could be out of their homes for three to six more months


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Residents of an Ozone Park apartment building watched their homes damaged by flames just a week before Christmas. And now it looks like they won’t be returning home for months to come.

It may take up to three to six months for the building at 103-45 97th St. to be made livable again as the owner and architect are working around the clock to get it fixed as soon as possible, according to a representative from Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office.

The owner has just about finished cleaning debris from the fire- and water-damaged building and is now in the process of working with city agencies to move plans for repairs forward.

The architect who took over the project will be sending plans to the Department of Buildings as early as this week in a bid to get city approval to patch up the roof and seal the windows, making the building “water tight” and livable again, the representative said.

OZP_BUILDING2

Once all the construction is finished, that will conclude the first phase of the recovery process. After it is finished, the process will move much faster and residents will be able to get back into their homes.

The representative said that at this point there has been no problem with communication between the owner of the building and the city, and that the city has been very receptive to this case.

The fire started around 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 18. The attic and fourth floor sustained most of the fire damage, and the other floors mostly had damage from the torrents of water used to extinguish the five-alarm blaze. It took firefighters two hours to bring the fire under control.

Most of the building’s residents found shelter with families, but some turned to the Red Cross for help. They were given a free place to stay over that weekend, and if they still couldn’t find a place to live after that, they had to go down to the Red Cross corporate headquarters in Manhattan to be put on a list for temporary housing until they can return to the building.

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Corona church closes ‘until further notice’ after electrical fire


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2:10 p.m.

Devoted parishioners of Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church will have to find another place to worship next week after a Sunday morning blaze ripped through their beloved sanctuary.

Church officials are not sure how long it will take to make the extensive repairs. But crews were already at work Monday.

The fire broke out at 5:45 a.m. on the first floor of Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church, located at 104-11 37th Ave., not long before parishioners were expected to begin attending the first Sunday morning Mass, the FDNY said.

According to published reports, Monsignor Thomas Healy of Our Lady of Sorrows led prayers outside the church Sunday after having to cancel all masses.

Two firefighters were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital with minor injuries.

Fire marshals determined Monday that the cause of the fire was electrical due to wiring in the organ pipe tower.

According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, the church has close to 12,000 to 13,000 parishioners and has been serving the community since 1872.

“All of our shrines, churches and cathedrals are sacred and special in their own individual ways. What makes Our Lady of Sorrows stand out is that it is a parish of immigrants in the Diocese of Immigrants,”  the Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement.

On Monday the block in front of the church remained closed off by police tape, as construction crews worked on repairing the site. There are flyers posted around the block letting residents and parishioners know that there are no Mass services until further notice.

According to a receptionist at Our Lady of Sorrows, it could take one to two weeks for the doors of the church to open again because they want to make sure the area is safe and clean.

Weekday and Sunday Mass services have been now moved to the auditorium of Our Lady Of Sorrows Catholic Academy, located at 35-34 105th St. For the service schedule, visit www.olschurch-corona.org.

The school itself was closed Monday because electricity had to be shut off due to the fire. Classes are expected to resume Tuesday, according to the school’s website.

“The Diocese of Brooklyn is fully committed to helping this church rebuild so that it may continue serving its faithful community as it has been doing since 1872,”  the Diocese of Brooklyn said in the statement. “As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, let us pray for our fellow parishioners in Corona during this time of rebuilding.”

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64-year-old man killed in Jamaica house fire


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 6, 9:59 a.m.

An early morning house fire in Jamaica left one man dead and his elderly mother injured, authorities said.

The fire started just after 3:30 a.m. on Monday in the basement of the two-story home on 118th Road near Marsden Street, authorities said. It took firefighters until about 5:10 a.m. to control the flames.

Two residents were taken to area hospitals, according to police.

An 89-year-old woman was transported to Franklin Hospital in stable condition. Her 64-year-old son was taken to Queens Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead. His identity has not been released by police.

A third person refused medical treatment at the scene, the FDNY said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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New Year’s Eve cooking accident caused deadly fire at LeFrak City: officials


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube/Orest Petrychyn

Updated Friday, Jan. 2, 10:38 a.m.

An unattended pot of soup cooking on a stove sparked a horrific New Year’s Eve fire that left three dead in their LeFrak City apartment and sent flames shooting from the ninth-floor balcony, officials said.

The blaze was reported by a call to 911 at 11:46 p.m. on Wednesday and quickly went to a second alarm.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire at the 16-story apartment tower at 96-02 57th Ave. in Corona. After firefighters battled their way through a smoke-filled hallway, they found two women and a man unconscious and unresponsive in Apt. 9C.

All three were pronounced dead at area hospitals.

Police identified the victims, all residents of the apartment, as Nadia Donnay, 37, Louise Jean-Charles, 59, and Napolean Michel, 69.

Donnay and Jean-Charles were taken to Elmhurst Hospital. Michel was taken to Forest Hills Hospital.

The family was preparing a traditional Haitian New Year’s Eve soup on the stove that night when it was left unattended, causing the fire, according to officials. The FDNY determined the blaze was accidental and no working smoke alarms were found in the home.

“Right away, we took our jackets and we started knocking on the doors letting people know there’s a fire,” one resident told WCBS TV. “There was smoke all over the place.”

Seven firefighters suffered minor injuries.

According to a LeFrak City Organization spokesman, the building has no fire violations and the apartment was outfitted with smoke detectors as required by law.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the families of those affected,” the spokesman said. “A smoke detector rider attesting to the presence of this life safety equipment was signed and initialed by the tenant in 2012.”


A YouTube video posted of the fire shows flames shooting from the ninth floor balcony.

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Families forced from their homes for the holidays after 5-alarm fire in Ozone Park


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of FDNY

This holiday season has been tinged with tragedy for dozens of families who were forced to flee their homes in an Ozone Park apartment building after a raging fire swept through the five-story building’s top two floors Dec. 18.

Many of the families affected were able to find a place to stay temporarily with friends or family. But, as of Dec. 19, 11 families had no place to go and turned to the Red Cross for help. The disaster response agency provided those families with three nights of shelter in a nearby hotel.

They were also given vouchers for food and clothing. Meanwhile, Councilman Eric Ulrich also pitched in by providing some of the families with food and clothing.

Families that did not find a more permanent place to stay by Dec. 22 were told to go to the Red Cross headquarters in Manhattan, where the agency will help them look for temporary housing until their apartments are rebuilt and habitable. This alternate housing would be in city-owned properties throughout the five boroughs, according to Ulrich’s office.

Because the vacant housing stock in the city is not plentiful, the Red Cross cannot promise a local place for the families to stay temporarily and Ulrich is worried that those children who were affected by the fire may not be able to get to school once the holiday break is over.

His office is currently working with the city for local places where the families may be able to stay and has even made some calls to privately owned housing units to see if they can accommodate the families.

The fire ripped through the fourth floor and attic of the apartment building, located at 103-45 97th St., around 4:20 p.m. on the evening of Dec. 18. It took a little over two hours for fire fighters to bring the fire under control.

Fire damaged the fourth floor and attic portion of the apartment building while the other three floors sustained water damage. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the FDNY.

According to Ulrich’s office, the Department of Buildings believes that once the first three floors are dried out and checked again for any further damage, residents living on those floors may be able to return. But there is no timetable for when that might happen. The families living on the fourth floor will have a longer wait until they can return home as there is more infrastructure damage on that floor, due to the fire.

“We’re working with the city agencies, the Red Cross and nonprofits to make sure that those families and residents that were impacted by the fire get the services they need,” said Redmond Haskins, a representative from Ulrich’s office. “I encourage anyone who has been affected by the fire to give our office a call so we could give help.”

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5-alarm fire breaks out in Ozone Park residential building


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of FDNY

Updated Friday, Dec. 19, 9:45 a.m. 

A five-alarm blaze broke out in an Ozone Park building on Thursday, displacing residents and disrupting subway service, officials said.

The blaze started at about 4:20 p.m. in the four-story residential building at 103-45 97th St., near Liberty Avenue, officials said.

By 5 p.m., the fire had spread to five-alarms. It took firefighters until about 6:40 p.m. to bring it under control. The flames were contained to its roof and the attic area below it.

The fire also affected subway service in the area, causing suspensions and delays on the A and C lines.

One minor injury was treated at the scene, according to the FDNY. The injury, however, was related to exposure to the cold and not the fire.

Two dozen families were displaced by the fire, and 11 of them, which included 43 people, turned to the Red Cross for emergency housing, according to the organization.

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Woman dies in Flushing house fire


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

Authorities are investigating a Flushing house fire that left a 46-year-old woman dead.

The blaze broke out just before 4 p.m. on Thursday in a home at 150-24 25th Dr., the FDNY said. The fire was under control by 4:15 p.m.

Inside the home, a woman, who has yet to be identified by police was discovered and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The fire and the woman’s cause of death are still under investigation.

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Man sets fire to cop car during arson spree near Elmhurst Hospital: DA


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

police car

Updated 5:07 p.m.

A man was busted for trying to set an NYPD cruiser and five other cars on fire near Elmhurst Hospital by stuffing burning rags into the gas tanks, police said.

“The defendant is charged with damaging six vehicles by stuffing a rag in each of the vehicles’ gas tanks and setting it ablaze,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “These incidents should not be viewed as a prank.”

According to Brown’s office, Miguel Ramos, 23, stuffed a dark rag into the gas tank of a Honda on Layton Street near the hospital before setting the cloth ablaze about 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Ramos then went a few doors down to place another lit rag into a Nissan.

After police arrived, four more vehicles were found in the vicinity of the hospital with burning rags stuffed in their tanks, including a Chevrolet,  an Audi and a marked police vehicle, officials said. The fire charred and damaged the rear area and gas tanks of the cars.

Ramos, an Astoria resident, was arraigned on Dec. 4 on three counts of third-degree criminal mischief and six counts of fourth-degree arson,  the district attorney’s office said. If convicted, Ramos could face up to four years in prison.

Police did not immediately have a motive.

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