Patients return after roof of Queens hospital catches fire; video shows billowing smoke


FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens — A Queens hospital was engulfed in flames Friday evening, according to officials.

The call came into the FDNY at about 5:15 p.m. for reports of a fire at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital on Beach 19th Street, authorities said.

The fire was on the rooftop of the 11-story building — the only hospital on the Rockaway peninsula.

NYPD officials said the hospital’s emergency room had been evacuated and no injuries had been reported as of yet. EMS officials said several people were transported to local hospitals from St. John’s, but they had not sustained injuries from the fire. Three people were taken to local hospitals with injuries not directly caused by the fire, officials said.

Other parts of the hospital were under a shelter-in-place order.

Relatives of hospital patients rushed to the scene to make sure their loved ones were all right.

“My father is an amputee and he’s on the 11th floor,” Julia Charles, a Flatbush resident, told PIX11 News. “He had water and debris falling on him. He has a heart condition and he hasn’t been moved yet.”

Firefighters on the scene were able to assure Charles and her sister that their father — Herbet Binger — had been relocated to a different floor and was doing fine.

Many of the 800 patients were moved out of the hospital all together and were slowly being wheeled back in once all the hot spots were extinguished.

“We were able to relocate most of the patients, working with the hospital staff to move them out of the 11th floor where the smoke had been drifting down,” Fred Schaaf, the deputy assistant fire chief, told PIX11 News.

New Yorkers were told to expect traffic delays, an emergency vehicle presence and smoke billowing from the building.

As fire marshals searched for the cause of this fire, others praised this hospital that serves the 105,000 residents of the Rockaway peninsula.

“This community hospital is the only one here, and if this one went down, we would have to move everyone,” State Sen. James Sanders told PIX11 News. “It’s an eerie reminder of how vulnerable we are.

All emergencies on the Rockaway peninsula are now being diverted to South Nassau or Jamaica until St. John’s is fully operational again.

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