112 Apartments Damaged as Inferno Devours Queens Building: FDNY

WNBC 4 - April 13, 2017

by Katherine Creag

Nearly a dozen firefighters suffered minor injuries

A fire on the roof of an apartment building in Queens rapidly spread to apartments below, damaging more than 100 apartments and displacing dozens of people as the blaze burned for hours Tuesday, authorities say.

The fire broke out around 6:30 p.m. at a six-story building on 94th Street in Elmhurst. One man was in the middle of shaving when he said water started pouring into his fourth-floor apartment like "Niagara Falls." He ran outside, along with dozens of other residents who filled nearby streets and sidewalks as they watched, helpless, as about 200 firefighters battled the flames.

The blaze was brought under control in about three and a half hours; by that point, part of the roof had collapsed, officials said.

Eleven firefighters were hurt, authorities said, but all were expected to be OK. Dozens of anguished residents were left in disarray after the fire. Abishek Chandiramani, a tenant on the fifth floor, was among them.

My wife is pregnant," Chandiramani said through tears. "We have no home, nothing. We have to stay the whole night here outside."

Chandiramani said he believes many, if not most, of his possessions are gone. "I have only my phone," he said. "I came with my slippers. I don't have nothing."

The cause of the fire is under investigation. As for the man on the fourth-floor who had been shaving, he was staying at a shelter across the street. When NBC 4 New York spoke with him Wednesday morning, he still had only half his face shaved. He was able to briefly go back into his apartment Tuesday night to get a few items before having to leave again. Residents on the fifth and sixth floors of the building were allowed to return to their homes Wednesday.

It wasn't clear how many apartments in total were in the building, but the FDNY tweeted late Tuesday it had been able to "save" 60 of them.