BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
A building contractor was arrested yesterday for his alleged involvement in causing a five-alarm fire in Elmhurst.
Contractor Declan Mcelhatton, 53, of Maintenance Asset Management in Yonkers, was arrested in connection with the massive fire that broke out on Tuesday evening at a 112-unit building at 94th Street and 57th Avenue and left 11 firefighters injured.
Sections of the building— including the cockloft area, which is the portion of the building above the top-floor ceiling and below the roof board— had extensive damage from the fire, FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard said.
A total of 44 FDNY units and approximately 200 fire and EMS personnel arrived on the scene within minutes after 911 calls had been placed.
“The tragedy here, though, is the extensive damage to over 112 apartments,” Leonard said.
Leonard said that for the second time this year, the FDNY was able to use a drone that was highly effective in terms of strategy and tactics.
“There are about 10 apartments per floor in each wing, but because the firefighters had such a quick response, we were able to save wing A and B,” Leonard said. “We had fire in the A wing, but were able to save the B wing. It was very labor intensive. A lot of the top floor is collapsed.”
According to the FDNY, the cause of the fire was an open flame from a propane torch that was in close proximity to the combustible roof. The fire originated on the roof in structural roofing materials and replacement roofing materials in the course of an allegedly illegal roof torch-down operation.
Mcelhatton is expected to be charged with arson and reckless endangerment, law enforcement officials said.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org