BY JON CRONIN
Three two-story buildings were destroyed in a massive five-alarm fire in Glendale on Myrtle Avenue on June 24.
The city’s Fire Department said that the call came in at 9:10 p.m. and 44 units and approximately 200 firefighters and EMS personnel responded. The FDNY closed off Myrtle Avenue between Cooper Avenue in Glendale Center and 72nd Street.
According to the FDNY, 11 firefighters and one civilian were injured during the fire. However, their injuries were only heat related or sprains and strains.
According to a previously published report, two fire hydrants at the scene were unusable, but the FDNY said that only one did not work and didn’t hamper firefighters’ ability to combat the blaze.
Firefighters remained on the scene for 12 hours after the fire went out to clear areas and put water on pockets of fire still burning.
Three stores and two apartments were deemed unsafe by the city’s Department of Buildings and received full vacate orders due to the extensive fire damage, a DOB spokesman said. The owners of the properties have hired contractors to demolish what remains and the residents of the two apartments have been offered relocation assistance by the American Red Cross, the spokesman added.
“You always hear engines running up and down Myrtle Avenue, but then they stopped here,” said Emily Parrino, a resident who lives across the street from the scene of the fire. “I was afraid sparks would fly across the street and on to my house.”
John Houck, a 71st Place resident, said that no one could stand within one block of the fire.
“There was black smoke everywhere,” he said. “It burned your eyes. You couldn’t see anything.”
A GoFundMe page has already been created to help the displaced families. According to the page, the Habib and Vasile families, who lived in the apartments, lost everything. Both families have two children, all under the age of 10. The page’s goal is to reach $12,000. In less than 18 hours, $2,050 had been raised with 37 donations.
Tom Grech, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce said he would be willing to get their phone calls forwarded to his office and provide office space if needed, but he would like to hear from the store owners and find out what they need. He said he was happy to help, “It’s hard enough to do business in New York City in general.”
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said that the Myrtle Avenue fire spread faster due to a shared cockloft throughout the three buildings.
Addabbo said that he introduced a bill regarding cocklofts in 2013 following a five-alarm in Middle Village that damaged seven homes and injured 11 firefighters. The bill, which recently passed the state Senate, would offer a 30-percent tax credit to homeowners who repaired their cocklofts.
“Similar circumstances, including the fire on June 24, have prompted me to speak out about the hazardous conditions found throughout older houses in the district,” Addabbo added. “Over the years, there has been growing evidence that cocklofts help intensify the spread of hard-to-control flames, putting both residents and firefighters at extreme risk.”
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, email@example.com or @JonathanSCronin.