DNAinfo - December 25, 2012by Paul DeBenedetto, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer
THE ROCKAWAYS — A raging fire that destroyed 126 homes in Breezy Point during Hurricane Sandy was caused by rising seawater coming into contact with an Ocean Avenue home's electrical system, fire officials announced Monday.
The fire started about 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29, when witnesses reported seeing a fire inside 173 Ocean Ave. in Breezy Point, according to a release from Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.
The fire eventually spread to more than 100 homes, as firefighters battled rising tides and hurricane-force winds for almost 12 hours to subdue the flames.
“Super Storm Sandy created challenges for the Department on every level, from our fire suppression and rescue efforts that night to the painstaking investigative work that followed,” Cassano said in a statement.
The Breezy Point announcement was part of a series of findings from the FDNY about fires that took place during Sandy.
In Rockaway Beach, a fire at 113-18 Rockaway Beach Boulevard started when utility wires fell onto the three-story building, the FDNY said. Firefighters could not reach the the area because of storm surges, and the fire spread, destroying 16 other buildings.
At 239 Beach 129th St., downed lines again sparked a fire, which spread to 31 other buildings, the FDNY said. Flooding from the storm surge again caused delays for firefighters, leading to the buildings' complete destruction.
And a restaurant at 1 City Island Ave. in The Bronx caught fire when overheated utility wires fell onto the building, the FDNY said.
Twenty-one serious fires occurred during the storm, and another 73 structural fires have occurred in the city since the storm that were determined to be storm-related, fire officials said.