Dozens of Families Displaced after 5-alarm Fire Rips Through Ozone Park Apartment Building

WPIX 11 - December 19, 2014

by Ayana Harry

OZONE PARK, Queens (PIX11) -- Two dozen families are left out in the cold Thursday night after a five-alarm fire tore through their homes in Ozone Park. Residents ran out from their apartment building in the cold.

A fast and fierce five-alarm blaze sent flames into the winter night sky.

The scene at 103-45 97th St. was a challenge to control.

Nearly 300 firefighters were called in to help.

It all started inside a fourth floor apartment around 4:30 this afternoon. Part of the problem in battling this blaze — the apartment was built 100 years ago.

“Because this is an older building, the roof does not have fire protections that a later building has,” Deputy Chief Clark said. “So once fire entered the area above the ceiling, it can travel throughout the entire top floor.”

Firefighters first checked to make sure everyone escaped ok, then went to work.

After two hours, the roof was gone, burned right off — but the fire was finally under control.

“It’s going to be a long time before anyone can come back into the building just due to the structural damage to the roof and top floor,” Deputy Chief Clarke said. “Also, there’s a tremendous amount of water damage in the building from all the water we needed to extinguish the fire.”

“I can’t go in and change, I can’t go shower, I can’t go in and lay down right now.”

Amar Ranjit is stunned. His parents were home as the fire spread from apartment to apartment. They were rescued thanks to neighbors — but he fears the family may have lost it all.

“I went to the back to see if my apartment got on fire, and I see them breaking the window there too,” Ranjit said. “So that was it for me, I lost hope there.”

Tonight, many residents took shelter from the temperatures inside PS 65. The Red Cross is here with a bit of relief.

“We’re offering mental health support,” Josh Lockwood from the American Red Cross says. “We’re offering food, we’re offering temporary housing and we’re offering temporary lodging to these families just before the holidays.”