Massive blaze rips through row of Queens buildings, leaving families homeless

Posted at 9:11 AM, Mar 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-05 19:41:41-05

RICHMOND HILL, Queens — A massive blaze ripped through seven buildings in a Queens neighborhood overnight Sunday, leaving several families homeless.

The seven-alarm fire started around 11 p.m. Saturday on the first floor of a two-story building on Liberty Avenue near 111th Street, FDNY officials said. It quickly spread to seven adjacent buildings.

Nearly a dozen businesses and homes were destroyed in the fire, FDNY officials said.

"I'm really devastated. I'm's really upsetting. it's a fire so you have no control over it," a woman who lived in one of the buildings destroyed by the fire, told PIX11 News.

"We all got out safe thank god, that's all that's important," she said.

The row of buildings affected were underneath an elevated A-train station.

"This block use to bring a lot of business and income for the neighborhood," Jeewan Maharaj said. He worked in one of the businesses affected.

"It's so devastating. Thank go there are no lives [taken], but lots of people lost their jobs," Maharaj said.

More than 200 firefighters battled the fire for four three hours, the FDNY said. Four of them received minor injuries.

A 13-year veteran of the FDNY had to use a rope to escape from one of the buildings. Firefighter Charles Flohr was searching a rear bedroom on the second floor of a home when the fire flashed over him.

"I had about ten seconds to put it on and get out the window," said Flohr. "I knew exactly what to do and I felt confident."

One civilian also received minor injuries from the fire, officials said. Two of the firefighters and the civilian were transported to Jamaica Hospital for treatment.

Officials from the Red Cross were on scene to help people find places to sleep. They assisted eight families.

Some people affected by the fire took shelter at a nearby temple. Some residents from the neighborhood have started donating food and clothes to those who are displaced.

"I guess we're going to have to start over and rebuild, because everything is destroyed," a woman said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.