3 Killed, 4 Critical in Queens House Fire

WPIX 11 - November 08, 2009


QUEENS, N.Y. (WPIX) - Three men were killed and four others critically injured early Saturday in a Queens fire that tore through an illegal basement apartment.

Flames erupted at 2:45 a.m. inside the two-story home at 42-40 65th Place in Woodside. Investigators say the fire started in the basement, which had been partitioned illegally, transforming it into an apartment .

Two men died at the scene despite efforts to revive them; a third died at Elmhurst Hospital Center.

Firefighters faced a frantic scene, with residents struggling to make it out alive. Badly-burned victims were found lying on the front sidewalk, just inside the front door and beneath a basement window.

None of the victims were immediately identified, but neighbors say they were in their 30s and were all from Bangladesh.

After the rescue, buildings inspectors found numerous violations including an illegal occupancy, work done without a permit and no second entrance from which victims might have been able to escape.

Initially, firefighters were sent to the wrong address. A 911 operator originally took down the wrong street from a caller, but he said the mistake was corrected about two minutes after the firefighters were dispatched, said department spokesman Jim Long. It's still not clear how much of a delay the mix-up caused.

The Buildings department tells PIX News the flames started after a boiler exploded.