3 Killed, 4 Hurt In Woodside, Queens Blaze That Broke Out In Illegal Basement Apartment

NY Daily News - November 07, 2009

by Sarah Armaghan and Larry Mcshane

Three men were killed and four others critically injured early Saturday in a Queens blaze that tore through an illegal basement apartment, fire officials said.

Two of the men died at the scene of the 2:45 a.m. fire inside the two-story home in Woodside, while a third died at Elmhurst Hospital Center, said Fire Chief Vincent Mavaro.

The fire started in the basement, which was illegally partitioned to accommodate an apartment, Mavaro said.

One of the dead man was found in the basement, while a second died in the backyard despite desperate efforts to revive him.

Firefighters arrived at the chaotic scene, with badly-burned victims found lying on the front sidewalk, just inside the front door and beneath a basement window.

"There was a lot of smoke - it was really thick," said a neighbor. "All of a sudden a firefighter came running out of the door carrying a man."

The neighbor watched as firefighters performed CPR on the man before loading him into an ambulance.

The four critically-injured victims were all taken to the the New York Hospital-Cornell Burn Center. None of the victims were immediately identified.

Authorities said the basement was split into a rear apartment and a section used by the first-floor occupants in violation of city codes.

The cause was under investigation.