Investigation Continues in Fatal Queens Fire

7 Online - November 08, 2009

by Carolina Leid

Dispatch system Part of Investigation Into Fire

WOODSIDE (WABC) -- If firefighters had arrived sooner would they have been able to save the three men who died?

That question also being asked Saturday night -- as the investigation into the fire on 65th Street in Woodside, Queens continues.

Firefighters had their cards stacked up against them with this fire. Not only were they dealing with an illegal basement -- they also got a bad address from the dispatch system.

When firefighters got to the Woodside home they found one man dead in the basement. Another made a desperate effort to get out of the home and into the backyard. Firefighters tried to revive him, but it was too late.

The fire killed three immigrants from Bangladesh and critically hurt four others. "All I know there was a big bang and next thing I know this fire was spreading all around," Ranabir Barua, fire victim's brother said.

Ranabir Barua's brother is the owner of the house on 65th Street -- one of four people who were seriously burned.

Investigators say five families were living in the two-family home which was illegally subdivided.

The victims, all men, were found in the basement which had been split into two apartments.

"One (of the victims) was right at the entrance of the front door. One was in the bedroom appeared to be trying to get out of the basement window and another was right in the middle of the floor," FDNY Chief Vincent Mavaro said.

So Barua was given three summonses for illegal construction.

The likely cause of the fire was a faulty boiler.

Plus there are questions about the fire department response time.

A 9-1-1 operator typed in the wrong address into the FDNY dispatch system -- delaying firefighters by 45 seconds.

"We believe up to two minutes was lost. That two minutes may or may not have been able to save everyone's lives," Chief Mavaro said.

"That two minutes may or may not have been able to save everyone's lives that were lost this morning. But we will never know because they weren't on the scene correctly," said Leroy McGinnis of the Uniformed Firefighters Associatioin.

That union representative is referring to the new centralized 9-1-1 dispatch system that is being used in the city.

That of course is part of the ongoing investigation.