Families Flee 5-Alarm Apartment Blaze in Queens, FDNY Hampered by Snow, Blocked Streets

NY Daily News - December 28, 2010

by Mark Morales and Barry Paddock

A five-alarm fire raged for three hours in a 66-unit Queens apartment building Monday night, displacing about 100 families, fire officials and residents said.

The fire broke out in a top-floor apartment of the six-story building on Judge St. in Elmhurst just before 6:30 p.m., officials said. The fire was sparked by a space heater, a resident said.

The aftermath of the blizzard, including cars abandoned in the roadway, may have delayed the response by up to 15 minutes, officials acknowledged.

"Eventually we got our units into place, but it did hamper our operation a bit," said Chief Joseph Carlsen.

Five firefighters and three civilians suffered minor injuries, officials said. Displaced families were being put up in a nearby public school late Monday night.

"It's very bad," said resident Hector Gonzales, 82. "I feel terrible I'm not in my apartment."