Hazardous Materials Fuel Eight-Alarm Fire In Queens Ironworks Factory

NY 1 - January 19, 2011

by Grant Greenberg

Firefighters spent more than half a day at the site of a massive, eight-alarm fire at an ironworks company in Queens that burned overnight.

The call came in shortly after 6 p.m. Monday at the one-story JSJ Iron Works at 150th Street and 95th Avenue in Jamaica.

The building was filled with hazardous materials, causing the fire to grow rapidly overnight.

Fire officials say insulation and melting tar may also have fed the flames, which spread to an adjacent building. They are still determining exactly what was stored in the building.

Firefighters were pulled from the building when it became too dangerous to fight the flames from inside.

"We pulled everyone out due to structural concerns, the fire spread, we put on our exterior operation and the depth of the building caused some issues...," said New York City Fire Department Deputy Chief Vinny Mandala. "It was difficult for us to get penetration with our large-caliber streams."

Seven firefighters were injured when a ceiling came down on top of them.

One was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center with facial burns and the others were taken to nearby hospitals with minor injuries. All are expected to recover.

After more than 10 hours, the fire was brought under control shortly before 5 a.m., but small pockets of flames still burned in the building.

"We have pockets of fire that because of structural concerns, we're having a difficult time reaching those little pockets. They may be covered with debris or roofing materials," said Mandala.

Fire officials said no people or buildings were in imminent danger, other than the neighboring structure that caught fire.

While the snow and sleet this morning did not necessarily slow down the firefighters, officials said it did not help.

"Especially when you have guys in the tower bucket, it's colder, it's windier, it makes the conditions very nasty," said Mandala.

Red Cross representatives were also called to the scene.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire, but do not believe the blaze was suspicious.