Bayside Fire Leads to Damage at Two Businesses Who are Blaming Each Other for the Blaze - February 06, 2019

A basement fire put two Bell Boulevard businesses out of commission. By Mark Hallum

A fire that had a Citibank branch on Bell Boulevard in Bayside shut down on Feb. 3 also had the neighboring hookah lounge out of commission with conflicting reports as to which business the blaze had originated.

A security guard at the Citibank located at 39-01 Bell Blvd. told TimesLedger that the fire had started with the neighboring House of Hookah and affected the bank to the point where it was still closed and covered in police tape the following day.

FDNY, however, told TimesLedger that a caller reported smoke in the front entrance of the bank and firefighters later found its source in the ceiling of the House of Hookah at 39-07 Bell Blvd.

According to the FDNY spokesman, the fire was under control by 11:20 a.m.

But when TimesLedger spoke with a source connected to the House of Hookah, they claimed the bank was “shifting blame” onto them even though the fire allegedly started in a basement only accessible to Citibank.

“It happened in an area where we have no access,” the source said, accusing Citibank of shifting the blame.

The source said FDNY had to bust through a wall in the back of the lounge to access the fire in the underground area near the back of the building. But the lounge’s basement only extends about 20 feet from the street, according to the source.

Caution tape had the sidewalk in front of Citibank closed off by about 10 feet out while the House of Hookah did not have any tape around it, though work was taking place in the storefront.