Tag Archives: Fire

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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3-alarm fire breaks out at St. Albans building


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

It took firefighters almost four hours to control a large blaze at a St. Albans commercial building Tuesday night, according to the FDNY.

The fire broke out just after 7 p.m. at the one-story building, located at 104-03 108th Street. It quickly grew to three alarms and was under control by about 10:40 p.m., fire officials said.

The roof of the structure, a food packaging factory, collapsed, according to multiple reports.

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, the FDNY said.

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Fire breaks out at Howard Beach building


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

A one-story commercial building on Cross Bay Boulevard caught fire Thursday evening.

Around 5:22 p.m., a fire broke out in the cockloft of the building, which houses Scott Baron and Associates Law Office, located at 159-49 Cross Bay Blvd., according to the FDNY.

Firefighters had the flames under control by about 6:00 p.m., the FDNY said.

About eight engine trucks were on scene.

There were no injuries, according to the FDNY.

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Underground fire breaks out in Astoria


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

A possible utility fire broke out underground in Astoria Thursday afternoon, causing evacuations in the area, fire officials said.

The fire started about 2:45 p.m. on 36th Street near 24th Avenue, according to the FDNY. No injuries have been reported, but nearby homes have been evacuated as a precaution.

The cause of the flames, which were coming up through the sidewalk, may be from an underground transformer, according to ABC New York,

Con Edison has been called to the scene to investigate.

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Unattended candles caused St. Albans fire that killed two children: FDNY


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 7, 12:20 p.m.

Two young brothers were killed in a St. Albans fire Monday night after candles were left unattended in their home, according to authorities.

The fire, at a two-story residence at 188-15 Tioga Dr., broke out around 7:10 p.m. in the living room on the first floor, engulfing the home, the FDNY said. It took about 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

Fire officials found a candle melted on the floor near the sofa, where the flames ignited. Witnesses said the family used candles, which were found throughout the home, in prayer ceremonies, according to the FDNY. There were no smoke detectors on the first and second floors of the home. Smoke detectors in the basement failed to go off.

Two boys, Andrew Kavanagh, 6, and John Kavanagh, 11, were discovered on the second floor and taken to Queens Hospital Center, where they died, police said.

A third victim, a 33-year-old man, was transported to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition after he jumped from a window to escape, authorities said. He sustained injuries to his hands and feet. The man’s exact relationship to the children was not immediately clear, but police said it does not appear he is related to them.

Two firefighters also suffered minor injuries, according to the FDNY.

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Three found dead with slash wounds in Flushing fire: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

Updated 4:18 p.m. 

Police are investigating the deaths of three people who were found with slash wounds in a Flushing apartment fire Tuesday morning as a possible murder-suicide, authorities said.

The blaze started just before 5 a.m. in the top floor of a six-story building at 143-40 Roosevelt Ave., the FDNY said. The fire, which was contained to one apartment, was brought under control in about 30 minutes.

A 54-year-old woman, 50-year-old man and 15-year-old boy, were discovered dead in the blaze, cops said. According to published reports, the victims were a husband , wife and son.

Police sources said the bodies were badly burned, but appeared to have had wounds on their necks. A suicide note was found a the scene. The medical examiner will determine how the victims died.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Three firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, the FDNY said.

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Fire breaks out at Ozone Park school on first day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND SALVATORE LICATA 

An Ozone Park school had to be evacuated on the first day back to class after a fire broke out on its roof, according to the FDNY.

The minor blaze started at about 10:50 a.m. on Thursday in one of the air conditioning units of P.S. 63, fire officials said.

Students and staff were evacuated from the 90-15 Sutter Ave. building for about 45 minutes, according to teachers.

No injuries were reported.

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Woman dead after Jackson Heights apartment fire


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A 46-year-old woman is dead after a fire at a Jackson Heights home early Saturday morning.

Police responded to the call of a fire at 85-10 34th Ave. at about 3 a.m., and, after the FDNY extinguished the blaze, Sophia Paz was found unconscious and unresponsive in the apartment’s bedroom, according to cops.

Paz was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

The fire marshal will determine the cause of the fire and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

 

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MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers save residents from LIC blaze


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA / Oscar Gonzalez


Two MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers were injured after helping rescue more than a dozen people from an early morning fire at a Long Island City apartment building.

Sgts. Kris Owens and Paul Leggio were preparing for a security checkpoint at the Queens Midtown Tunnel administration building Wednesday when they saw flames and smoke at the rear of an apartment building  just two doors away, the transit agency said.

A two-alarm fire had broken out just after 6:30 a.m. in a four-story dwelling at 10-39 51st Ave.

Owens and Leggio, together with Sgt. Jacinth Thomas and Officers Joseph Vasquez, Ronald Linck, Steven Wall, Dave Rivera and James McGuigan, sprung into action and decided to check to see if anyone was trapped in the blaze.

“We saw heavy flames and smoke as we approached, and we started knocking on doors and kicking doors to get the people out,” Owens said. “Everybody seemed to be sleeping and disoriented, and some people came out in their nightclothes.”

After safely removing more than a dozen people from the building, the officers also evacuated residents from the apartment buildings on both sides of the fire, according to the MTA.

“Within a few minutes we had the building cleared. We got everybody out safely. I’m glad we were there,” Owens said.

Vasquez and Linck were injured while evacuating residents and were taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment of cuts, bruises and smoke inhalation, the MTA said. Five firefighters were also hurt in the blaze, according to the FDNY, but no civilian injuries were reported.

“Our Bridge and Tunnel Officers work around the clock to protect our customers from hazards of vehicular traffic, but when they saw lives at risk off our property, these brave officers did not hesitate to plunge into danger to save them,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said. “I’m proud of their selfless actions to protect the public.”

 

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Manhole fires and power outage hit Woodhaven area


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

An electric blowout left 1,218 residents without power in the Woodhaven area for an hour Thursday morning, according to a Con Edison spokesman.

Three manholes spewed out flames and power lines above ground also burst into flames at about 6:15 a.m., according to residents on 95th Avenue and 96th Street where the event occurred.

“I woke up to a popping noise and I saw tons of black smoke coming out of the [manhole] covers,” Irene Kesluk said. “The power lines were on fire and there was that acrid smell in the air.”

Kesluk said that her lights flickered during the outage but power was quickly restored. Con Edison responded to the flames with cleanup crews. The crews spent the afternoon cleaning out the black stained manholes.

According to a Con Edison worker on site, the electric blowout was caused by an over use of electricity by residents in Woodhaven.

National Grid and Verizon were also on site but there were no reports of gas lines being affected, but Kesluk said her landline was currently not working.

Nearby there was a smaller power outage that affected three Con Edison customers, according to the electric company’s spokesman. They still do no have power but they expect the area to be restored later in the afternoon.

“Con Ed and the fire department responded very quickly,” Kesluk said as she watched clean up crews hose out one of the burnt manholes.

 

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Queens nonprofit programs look for new home after 5-alarm fire caused by overloaded power strip


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Riyad Hasan

Lilian Castillo lost what felt like her second home last week after a five-alarm fire, caused by an overloaded power strip, engulfed a Jackson Heights building.

Castillo was a former student at the Queens Community House (QCH)’s Adult Education/English Classes for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program and is currently an employee for the nonprofit organization.

QCH, which provided four of its programs at the Bruson Building, located at 74-09 37th Ave., lost its home when the building’s third and fourth floors went up in flames the evening of April 21. Various other organizations, businesses and Plaza College were also housed inside the building.

“When I came to this country from the Dominican Republic, Queens Community House was the first place that welcomed me,” Castillo said. “It was where I met the people who became my friends. I feel as if I lost my second home in the fire.”

The Jackson Heights site was home to QCH’s Adult Education/ESOL program, which provides free intensive English and citizenship classes; immigrant services, providing assistance with citizenship and other legal residency needs; a CASP program, helping youth who have obtained a diploma through a non-traditional high school apply to and succeed in community college; and its Queens Center for Gay Seniors, the borough’s only senior center primarily serving an LGBT older adult population.

Also lost in the fire was a computer lab that was used by all four programs, which aided about 300 residents daily.

“The Center was full of many special, shared memories from the past decade,” Program Director John Nagel said. “Photos, awards, artwork…all gone.”

QCH has been able to secure some space at the Sunnyside Community Services for its Adult Education English classes. It’s Queens Center for Gay Seniors will operate out the QCH’s Kew Gardens Community Center.

According to the FDNY, nine people sustained minor injuries as a result of the fire, including seven firefighters and a police officer.

The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical due to an overloaded power strip, according to the FDNY.

Anyone interested in helping QCH, can visit www.queenscommunityhouse.org.

 

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Five-alarm fire engulfs Jackson Heights commercial building, injuring nine


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Riyad Hasan

CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO 

Updated 1:55 P.M.

A five-alarm fire broke out Monday night at a Jackson Heights building that houses a college and several businesses, leaving nine injured.

The blaze was reported about 5:45 p.m. on Monday, April 21, at the 74-09 37th Ave. building’s third and fourth floors, the FDNY said. By 10 p.m. it had grown to five alarms, with 44 units and around 200 firefighters responding. It was finally under control at about 11:40 p.m., according to fire officials.

An FDNY spokesman said nine people sustained minor injuries as a result of the fire, including seven firefighters and a police officer. The ninth victim, according to published reports, was a child from a nearby building who was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

The community’s “biggest immigrant service provider,” Queens Community House, an LGBT senior center, Plaza College and about 50 other offices, stores and businesses were located inside the fire-damaged structure, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm.

“This is a devastating fire for our community,” Dromm said. “I have spoken to the business owners, many who I know personally, and the effect on their establishments is truly horrible. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. We will rebuild and come back as a better and stronger Jackson Heights.”

Charles Callahan, president of Plaza College, said classes were not in session when the fire began and he has not been informed of the cause of the fire on the partially vacant floors.

“All faculty, staff and students were safely evacuated from the building,” a post on the school’s Facebook page said. It added there will be “no services of any type” at the college Tuesday.

Plaza College, which has about 750 students, has been located in the building since 1971 and has been planning to move to Forest Hills in September 2014. Classes were expected to begin in May.

However, at the moment, school officials are surveying nearby sites to find a temporary location for the school until September.

“We want to help students ensure that they aren’t misplaced. I’m sure we’ll get through this,” Callahan said. “My heart goes out because this has been my home for all these years.”

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation and firefighters were still at the scene as a precaution as of Tuesday morning, according to the FDNY.

 

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