Friday, August 26, 2011

4 Alarm Fire in Richmond Hill Stops J-Train and guts two medical offices

The FDNY responded with 200 firefighters and 40 Engine & Ladder units.
By Darrel Sukhdeo

The call came in to the FDNY at 5:36 pm on Monday (Aug 22nd) right in the middle of rush hour. Two children and 9 adults were displaced and were put up in local hotel by the Red Cross. Seven different addresses were affected, as well as, four dwellings. Construction was on-going for a month at both of the properties that were gutted. Three firefighters and one civilian was injured. Construction was on-going at the two properties that were gutted, including Roof work .

The FDNY spent several hours fighting the blaze, despite their best efforts seven properties were damaged. Two properties, 112-12 and 112-16 Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill, were completely gutted, both were medical offices. Two other properties were badly damaged by the fire and water. Three other buildings were damaged in the firefighters’ efforts to prevent the fire from spreading, including water damage, broken doors, walls, windows and roofs. During his press statements, Chief Edward Kilduff, Chief of Departments, said, "3 firemen were injured when the roof collapsed", and, "a smoke & fire explosion occurred when windows were broken open, letting air in, which caused the roof to collapse. The firefighters are being treated at Jamaica Hospital for non life-threatening injuries". One civilian was injured and was treated by EMS on the scene.

A spokesman for the American Red Cross of Greater New York, Micheal Devuopilliere, in a telephone interview, said that nine adults & two children lost their apartments in the fire. As is customary, the Red Cross provided temporary housing at local hotels. The Red Cross also provided food, aid and counselling to the displaced, as well as, the first responders on the scene including firefighters, police and EMS. He said, “disaster assessments were being conducted at two other dwellings to determine if those residents would need assistance”.

The smoke from the fire was dark and intense and rose directly onto the tracks of the J-Train, which were mere feet form the building and the fire. The MTA immediately shut down the J-Train causing delays and disrupting commutes all along the J-Line; the Q56 Bus was re-routed in both directions. Many Straphangers were forced to take alternate routes, including many readers of Caribbean New Yorker. The smoke persisted incessantly throughout the fire and up to midnight, driving neighborhood residents to seek refuge elsewhere.

Several residents said that construction was on-going at 112-12 and 112-16 Jamaica Avenue, including Roof work laying down tar, both locations were completely destroyed. Chief Kilduff confirmed that there was construction at the properties for the last month, as well as Monday when the fire took place. The fire Marshall’s investigations will determine if the work being done by the construction company, JC Home Development, contributed in any way to the fire or may have been the cause of the fire. No one at the company would comment.

Everyone was evacuated safely and were remarkably calm, including business owners who lost everything and residents. I spoke with Dr. Shazia Sami, Medical Director, E-Z Medical, who left her office at 112-16 Jamaica Avenue minutes before the fire started. She said, “my staff ran from the building and called me”, she had no idea of the extent of the damage and in fact was leaving for Pakistan the next day. One resident said that Dr. Sami was very popular in the neighborhood. Other affected businesses include a physical therapy office, Podiatrist, Law office and Mortgage broker among others.

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