NY Daily News - December 25, 2012by Barry Paddock
Breezy Point’s blaze consumed 122 homes when rising sea water set a single house ablaze, says the New York City Fire Department.
Most of the 21 serious fires that destroyed hundreds of homes during Superstorm Sandy were sparked by sea water coming into contact with electrical systems, the FDNY announced Monday. The fiery holocaust that consumed 122 homes in Breezy Point, Queens, began when rising sea water came in contact with the electrical system of a single one-story home at 173 Ocean Ave. about 8:30 p.m. the night of the storm, fire marshals found.
The inferno spread as severe flooding kept firefighters at bay and tropical storm-force winds pushed the flames.
There were 94 separate storm-related fires in all, investigators determined. Electrical fires accounted for 68 of them, while 20 were caused by open flames from candles, stove tops and other sources and six were sparked by generators.
“Superstorm Sandy created challenges for the department on every level,” FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said in a statement, “from our fire suppression and rescue efforts that night to the painstaking investigative work that followed.”
In Rockaway Beach, Queens, downed electrical wires that fell onto the three-story building at 113-18 Rockaway Beach Blvd. sparked a blaze that spread to 16 homes, destroying them all, investigators determined.
Nearby, utility wires damaged by the storm in the eaves of the two-story building at 239 Beach 129 St. sparked the fire that destroyed 31 nearby buildings.
As in Breezy Point, floodwaters kept firefighters away from both Rockaway Beach fires for hours.
Downed utility wires were also behind the blaze that burned popular Tony’s Pier Restaurant on City Island to the ground, FDNY officials said.