Jackson Heights, Queens, New York
An eight-alarm fire that tore through a Jackson Heights apartment building Tuesday night has left hundreds homeless and resulted in 25 people being injured.
The fire started inside an apartment located at 89-07 34th Ave. shortly after 1 p.m. and quickly spread throughout the building. By 8 p.m., it had been upgraded to an eight alarm blaze, with more than 350 firefighters and EMS personnel at the scene.
Firefighters were finally able to get the fire under control at 12:07 a.m., but the flames damaged the majority of the 133-unit building, a FDNY spokesperson said.
“It took the department eight alarms and almost 12 hours to place the fire under control, working inside [and] outside, causing many injuries to our members and some injuries to civilians,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at the scene this morning.
In total, 19 firefighters and six civilians were injured. None of the injuries were life-threatening, the spokesperson said.
The flames spread throughout the building since the occupants of the apartment where the fire started left their front door open. Furthermore, they waited 10 minutes before calling 911, Nigro said.
The apartment was on the top floor of the six-story building.
The flames broke out at around 1 p.m. Tuesday on the sixth floor of the 133-unit building at 89th Street and 34th Avenue. Nearly two dozen people were injured, and the building was gutted.
Martin Barrera said she grew up there with his mother.
“Twenty-three years in an apartment, you settle. There’s something in there that belongs to you, and it’s called your home,” he told CBS2. “For them, this is all they had. It’s not some, or, you know, I can go move somewhere. It’s all they had.”
“We’re all reeling from this. Kids don’t have clothes, we’re completely empty, we have nothing,” said Andrew Sokolof Diaz, founder of the Tenant’s Association.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but officials said it began inside a sixth-floor apartment. Officials said there was a 10-minute delay in calling 911 after residents smelled smoke.
“People smell smoke, they notify someone else other than us, ‘I think I smell smoke.’ You smell smoke, call the fire department,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Investigators also believe the resident left the door open as they ran to safety, allowing the flames to spread into the hallway and then overhead into the cockloft.
Jackson Heights community members are now organizing efforts to help the 130 families — more than 400 people in total, according to organizers — who lived in the building and have been displaced.
A GoFundMe page was set up for the families by one of the organizers of a local LGBTQ-run food pantry called “Love Wins” and it has raised more than $100,000 in just 13 hours.
“A community made up of majority low-income, working class, immigrant essential workers, already experiencing the aftermath of COVID-19 are now without their homes,” Daniel Puerto wrote in the description of the GoFundMe.
“It’s hard to express the deep sadness we felt tonight as we looked into our neighbors eyes and asked how we could help,” Puerto added.
When Mayor de Blasio gets done trying to produce the recovery of all of us by emceeing performance arts venues in Brooklyn and Lincoln Center, maybe some time can be dedicated for his Housing Preservation and Development and Human Resources Administration to make sure these 400 residents who have had their lives upended from getting disenfranchised from their homes and belongings and make sure the owners of this complex, KEDEX PROPERTIES LLC, renovates and restores these apartments as quickly as possible.
And since there is still not much known about how this inferno started, right at the start of the afternoon no less, let’s be positively certain that when this LLC decides to demolish these actual affordable housing buildings and build some garishly designed tower they better let these residents that got displaced be allowed to return without any conditions. Instead of letting more low income people become gentrification collateral damage.
And since these working poor people are in dire need of housing now, surely there are other places to shelter for the time being until they get their homes back.
Since this recovery is supposed be for all of us.
Unless there are some exceptions, right Blaz?
On the day 3 since the displacement inferno in Jackson Heights, The Blaz preferred to go to Luna Park and ride the Cyclone with his entire staff of minions and Senator Chuck Schumer, along with a smattering of essential workers as a token gesture of equity. They were the only ones there at the amusement park’s first opening in over a year.
This bum doesn’t have the decency or even the courage to face the essential workers who got evicted from a devastating fire.
de Blasio is literally fiddling with himself and throwing circuses while the city burns.
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