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

NY Daily News - September 25, 2017

by ADAM SHRIER

The beloved patriarch of a Queens family died in a house fire Sunday after he saw smoke in his bedroom and went to find its source, authorities and relatives said.

The blaze began in a basement breaker box at the 97th Ave. home, near 107th St., in Ozone Park around 2:30 a.m., according to FDNY officials.

Mohinvei Singh, 68, awoke in his first-floor bedroom and went to check on smoke rising from the basement, according to his son-in-law, Raman Deol, 32. He never made it back.

Soon after, Singh’s son, Belkarn Singh, awoke in a smoke-filled room and went looking for his dad.

“He couldn’t find him,” Deol said of his 28-year-old brother-in-law, who was forced to give up his search amid the choking smoke.

Sandeep Kaur, a second-floor tenant of the three-story home, also awoke to find thick smoke flooding the 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.”

“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.

Deol recalled his father-in-law — who arrived from Punjab, India, more than 30 years ago and drove cabs for two decades — as a kind, hard-working man who supported many relatives and friends when they moved to the city.

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