Queens Landlord, 68, Dies after Fire Breaks Out in Basement

NY Daily News - September 24, 2017

by ADAM SHRIER

A landlord died in a fire that erupted in the basement of his three-story Queens home early Sunday.

The blaze broke out at a home on 97th Ave. near 107th St. in Ozone Park around 2:30 a.m., according to officials.

The 68-year-old victim, Mohinvei Singh, woke up in his bedroom on the first-floor and went down to check on smoke rising from the basement, according to his son-in-law, Raman Deol, 32.

When his son, Belkarn Singh, awoke in a room full of smoke, he went to look for his father.

"He couldn't find him," Deol said of his 28-year-old brother-in-law, who was forced to give up his search amidst the choking smog.

Singh died at the scene.

Sandeep Kaur, a tenant in the second-floor unit, also woke up to thick smoke flooding the home's hallways.

"I went to the kitchen to check the stove but I couldn't turn on the light," the 25-year-old said.

"None of the power was on. My first thought was to get out of the house. I didn't have a chance to grab my shoes."

Residents upstairs said they saw sparks flying from an electric pole outside the home.

"We saw sparkling on the electric pole and then a flash come from our AC," said Harish Kumari, 31, who lives on the third floor with two cousins.

"I saw the sparks outside and we came running out."

The fire was brought under control at 3:40 a.m. Fire Marshals continued to investigate the cause of the fire Sunday.

Deol described his father-in-law — an immigrant who arrived from Punjab, India, over thirty years ago and drove cabs for more than twenty years after his arrival — as a kind, hard-working man who supported many family members and friends when they first moved to the city.

"He worked overtime and helped four of his brothers immigrate here to the United States," said Deol.

"He helped his friends get jobs in gas stations, in construction and driving cabs. He was a helpful, peaceful man."

Singh is survived by his wife Jasbeer Kaur, two daughters, son and four young grandchildren, Deol noted.