3-Alarm Maspeth Fire Injures Seven

By Celia Bernhardt | cbernhardt@queensledger.com

A three-alarm fire broke out in Maspeth on Monday, displacing families from a two-story residential building on 60th Rd between Mt. Olivet Crescent and Fresh Pond Road. 

The FDNY received the call at 11:52 a.m. The blaze spread from its source to a connected home, doing major damage to both properties. It took a crew of 140 about an hour and a half to get the blaze under control.

A mother and two children were briefly trapped in one of the homes before being rescued by firefighters.

Five residents and two firefighters sustained minor injuries, including one firefighter who fell into the basement of the house as the floor partially collapsed. All were sent to local hospitals for evaluation as a precaution except one resident, who refused medical attention. 

The Red Cross was on the scene, as well as Assemblyman Juan Ardila, the NYPD, and other agencies. 

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

FDNY Deputy Chief of the 14th Division Mark Cuccurullo said that lithium-ion batteries were present on the scene, but had been kept in the backyard, outside of the home. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“Fire Marshals haven’t determined the cause of it. They’ve ruled out that it was a lithium battery,” Cuccurullo said. 

He explained that the investigation would involve draining the basement of excess water used to quell the flames before determining the source of the fire.

15-year-old Brianna Paguay, who lives close to the impacted homes, said her aunt was among those who lived in the building. 

“She’s kind of sad, crying, because of her stuff. We had money in there also, like over $50,000 in cash,” Paguay said. “And all of that got burnt down. All of the clothing, shoes, all of that.”

Interim Chief Executive Officer for the Greater New York Red Cross Celena Sarillo said that her team was working on identifying people’s needs. 

“We’ll be able to help them with a place to stay, possibly some other types of financial assistance, you know, some comfort kits that just have the basic needs — people that clearly ran out of the home have absolutely nothing and left with nothing. So just trying to even give them their toothbrush, soap, you know, so other things that they might need for the few days ahead of them,” Sarillo said. “It is usually immediate, temporary assistance. We hope to at least be able to give people that first or second day of help until they can find a long term housing solution.”

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

Paguay said her aunt had only lived in the house for a couple months after moving from further East in the borough. “Now she has to look for a new place…She moved over here because she thought, ‘Nice neighborhood,” Paguay said. “Material is material, you can get new clothing and stuff like that. But it’s just the money we had there, it’s a bunch of money and it’s all gone. It’s their savings from their hard work.” 

35-year-old Esthefanie Giordano, who lives a block away from the impacted houses, said she made sure to touch base with some of the families impacted by the fire. 

“I’m just connecting with them because they are Latin, as I am as well. They didn’t speak English — at least this family doesn’t. So I just wanted to connect them with a bunch of resources.” 

Giordano told the Queens Ledger over email that Assemblyman Juan Ardila had created a WhatsApp group with the affected families, and advised those interested in donating to contact him. 

A GoFundMe for one affected family, the Pazminos, had collected $3,190 out of its $50,000 goal at press time. 

“I think the community— I think we’re in need of another fire workshop,” Giordano said. “These are old houses, so they tend to be very flammable.”

“Always keep a lookout, you know, you never know when you could come of use and of assistance to others,” she added. “This can happen to literally anyone and everyone.”

Update: A new GoFundMe was created by Esperanza de Vida Church to provide support to all families affected. As of Thursday, Feb. 22, $1,390 of its’ $50,000 goal was raised.

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

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