14 Injured, Hundreds Displaced After Sunnyside Apartment Fire

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected] 

A five-alarm fire broke out at the top floor of 43-09 47th Avenue in Sunnyside on Wednesday. Nearly 200 firefighters battled the blaze for hours throughout the early afternoon. 

Crowds gathered in the street, watching plumes of smoke rise from the sixth floor as the FDNY, Red Cross, EMS and other agencies responded to the scene. Residents from the building wore Red Cross shock blankets, some carrying their pets in travel cages. 

The six-floor, 108-unit residential building sustained heavy damage from the blaze. At least 14 individuals were injured, with none in life-threatening condition. Several victims, along with a firefighter in serious but stable condition, were transported to nearby hospitals.

Firefighters battled the blaze for hours. Credit for all photographs: Celia Bernhardt

Approximately 450 residents could be displaced from the fire and water damage, FDNY Department Chief and Incident Commander Tom Currao said at a press conference.

“I was asleep, and my roommate comes in frantic and yells my name,” Brittany Maldonado, a 24-year-old resident of the building’s fifth floor, said. “We noticed that our apartment complex is filled with smoke, and we got super nervous. We thought that maybe it was something electrical. We couldn’t see where the smoke was coming from.” 

Maldonado said she and her neighbors went up to the sixth floor.

“You could see major smoke coming out of two or three of the apartments, but really one of the doors was major smog, like black smoke,” she said. “I don’t know if the apartment was vacant or if just nobody was home, but a bunch of people were knocking. The super was up there knocking on the door, and nobody would open the door.”

Diego Garzon, the building’s superintendent, said a tenant called him on the phone between 11 a.m. and noon to inform him about the smoke. 

“I went right away to the sixth floor and saw smoke coming out of it,” he said. 

Currao said at the press conference that the FDNY received notification around noon of a four-alarm fire at the top floor of the building. 

“We were met with a heavy fire condition; it quickly escalated through the alarms,” Currao said. “We had to call a fifth alarm as well as additional units.” 

The department used six tower ladders and six hand lines at the height of the blaze. 

“On our floor alone there’s two elderly women who are in wheelchairs, so we were trying to evacuate them, helping them down and stuff,’ Maldonado said. “But nobody really knew what was going on until we left the building. And that’s when we saw the fire was way bigger than I think anybody expected.”

Damage is extensive throughout the building.

Maldonado said that the fire alarms she heard were quieter than she would have expected. 

“I just heard a little fire alarm, but I feel like I’ve heard louder fire alarms in school,” she said. “Like, I remember being in college and those fire alarms were way louder than the ones going on in the building.”

“I was just really in a panic, I wasn’t really thinking, I was so scared, and I didn’t really know what was going on,” Maldonado continued. “I didn’t know if it was coming from my apartment building, from the people across the way, if it was something electrical, if it was a gas fire—there were a lot of things being said, like ‘it was a fire on the roof,’ ‘it was in somebody’s apartment’—it was just a little bit of chaos.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The Red Cross is offering assistance to building residents at the nearby Children’s Lab School, where they have set up a reception center. 

“I’ve been here for more than 30 years in the building. Over the 30 years, we never had this happen,” Garzon said. 

Maldonado said that many residents have called the Sunnyside building home for years. 

“They’re friendly. They’re like family members to one another,” she said. “This is really their home, and they’re like the backbone of the community. So I really hope that they’re able to help them out, give them a place to stay, things that they need.”

Hundreds of emergency personnel responded to the flames.



Three-alarm fire at Metro Deli shocks community

Over 100 firefighters battled the flames. Photo: FDNY via Facebook.

Residents of Middle Village and travelers on Metropolitan Avenue watched in awe as flames tore through Metro Deli last Wednesday.

The fire began at 67-30 Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village at around 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 30. According to New York City Fire Department (FDNY) officials, the fire was classified as a two-alarm fire originally, but was reclassified as a three-alarm fire at about 8:20 a.m.

Within four minutes, units arrived at the deli and were able to respond quickly, keeping the fire contained.

FDNY officials say over 100 firefighters battled the flames, which left the deli and the now-closed Juniper Tavern directly beside it damaged.

“This morning at approximately 7:30 we received a phone call reporting a fire at 67-30 Metropolitan Avenue. Our units arrived within four minutes and made quick work containing the fire considering how much fire we had on arrival in the rear of the Deli. Units were able to contain the fire to the Deli and the adjoining exposure building,” said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Leeb from the scene. “This fire went to a 3rd alarm assignment. There are currently no injuries reported. The fire is now under control and the cause is under investigation by our FDNY Fire Marshals.”

As a result of the fire, Metropolitan Avenue from 65th Place to 69th Street was closed off due to emergency response. Additionally, M train service was limited and buses that stopped near the location had to be detoured temporarily.

Various agencies, including the NYPD, DOB, DOHMH, MTA, Con Edison, NYC Emergency Management and SBS were notified and responded to the incident, according to a Facebook post from local Councilman Robert Holden.

“The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has placed the incident as ‘under control’ as of 9:30 AM, and my office will continue to monitor the situation,” he wrote in the post.

BREAKING: 1 firefighter injured in Sunnyside E-Bike Shop In Flames

An e-bike shop, Fly Wing E-Bike, has caught fire in Sunnyside. There is no current cause for the fire, which is at the intersection of 39th Place and 47th Avenue, as the Queens Ledger awaits updates from the police on the scene.

The one-alarm fire with additional units began approximately at 6:30 p.m, according to two sources who live near the shop.

Ahmed Zaiean, 54, said that he smelt tires burning and thought originally that it was coming from his apartment. Once he realized it was not his home he said he “definitely know it was the bike shop.”

The video below, from the Citizen App, shows the fire underway.

A building adjacent to Fly Wing E-Bike, 39-29 47th Ave, was broken into by the FDNY in order to put out the fire.


















This is a developing story.

South Richmond Hill fire kills three family members

GoFundme launched for family

A five-alarm fire broke out in South Richmond Hill last Friday and claimed the lives of three people.

The Little Guyana community is mourning the loss of three residents of the same family who lost their lives due to a raging fire in South Richmond Hill last Friday.

FDNY Firefighters responded to the deadly blaze at 104-18 125th Street, just after 2 p.m. When firefighters arrived, the fire began spreading to neighboring homes and due to windy conditions carried flames across the road, damaging adjacent homes as well.

More than 200 firefighters and 45 companies responded to the five-alarm fire at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 125th Street, eventually getting the raging flames under control at approximately 4:44 p.m. Five firefighters sustained minor injuries.

Initial searches of the building where the fire started were delayed due to structural issues, FDNY said. As of Tuesday morning, the cause of the fire is still under investigation by fire marshals.

Three people were killed in the blaze—Salima Persaud, Balo Persaud, and their son Devon Persaud.

Two of the bodies were found on Friday, while the third body wasn’t found until the day after, with emergency personnel still on the scene nearly 24 hours later.

A GoFundme has been started by an extended family member for funeral expenses, with over $43,000 raised in two days.

Queen of Peace Athletic Association recovers from fire damage

When Coach Eddie Cordero visited Vleigh Park Field in Kew Garden Hills last month ahead of the start of another baseball season for the Queen of Peace Athletic Association (QOPAA), he was dumbfounded at what he came across.

To his dismay, all of the league’s equipment had been burned and badly damaged inside a metal shed along the third base line of their home field at Judge Moses Weinstein Playground.

Among the damaged and charred outdoor maintenance equipment were three sets of rubber bases, liners and measuring tape, rakes, shovels and more inside the metal cage that has been protecting the equipment for well over four decades.

“I was shocked and upset,” Cordero, the parish athletic representative, said .

Coach Eddie and Melissa Grasso, treasurer of QOPAA, agree that vandalism has been dealt with in the past, but nothing to this extreme.

“It’s kind of sad,” Cordero said. “I’ve had family members playing here since 1983 and I started coaching in 1993.”

With basketball season being delayed due to COVID, baseball season was pushed back as well. Normally, Cordero says he’s preparing for baseball season in early February, but this year’s delay meant that he was simultaneously preparing for playoff basketball games and the start of baseball season on the same weekend.

A GoFundMe was created for donations to be made for the league’s equipment, with over $2,200 collected so far.

Cordero has also received a $2,500 grant from the Walter Kaner Children’s Foundation, a local nonprofit, to go towards league expenses.

With a delayed start –– just like the major leagues –– and now having to purchase new field equipment, Cordero says it’s been a difficult past two seasons of youth baseball.

“Last year, right in the middle of Covid in the springtime was tougher,” he added. “But people are starting to loosen the reins and feel a little more comfortable.”

The Queen of Peace school, formerly teaching grades K-8 in Flushing on 77th Road, closed in 2006. Cordero added that since the school closed some 16-years-ago, it’s been a more difficult task to get kids to sign up for the league.

At its peak, the league had around a dozen teams, some instructional and some travel teams, Cordero says. This year, a total of 6 teams (3 instructional and 3 travel) are part of the league.

Alumni of the league also includes Kyle O’Quinn, a Queens native who went on to play professional basketball for the New York Knicks, and relatives of Jose Alvarado, another NBA player, also participate in the league as coaches and players.

Having moved to the neighborhood in 1978, Cordero has seen three generations of his family compete or coach in the league. The all-volunteer QOPAA is part of the non-denominational Catholic Youth Organization. He says the league revolves around building sportsmanship, and keeping kids active.

A father of six, Cordero says his nieces and nephews all participate in the program.

“I’m still hanging in there because I have a three-year-old granddaughter who I’m hoping to coach when she gets eligible to play.”

To donate to the league, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/queen-of-peace-athletic-association-baseball

Two-alarm fire on Grand Avenue in Maspeth

FDNY responded to a two-alarm fire along Grand Avenue in Maspeth, on March 16, which left three injured.

The blaze broke out around 10 a.m. inside the three-story commercial building at 65-50 Grand Avenue spreading from Lafyes Jewelry store.

Twenty-five units were dispatched to fight the blaze, and more than 100 firefighters and EMS were at the scene. FDNY were able to have the fire under control around 11:30 a.m.

According to an FDNY spokesperson, two civilians and one firefighter were injured and transported to Elmhurst Hospital Center.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Early morning fire tears through Queens Blvd. building

An early morning fire on Queens Boulevard on Thursday tore through a row of businesses in Sunnyside.
Hundreds of firefighters and emergency personnel responded to the four-alarm blaze on the south side of the boulevard between 43rd and 44th streets. Three suffered minor injuries.
The fire started in Taiyo Food on 44th Street, and quickly engulfed the four neighboring businesses, Mad for Chicken, Bajeko Sekuwa, Malingo and Mad Cafe. No employees were injured.
In December of 2018, a large fire destroyed several businesses just a few blocks east on the same side of Queens Boulevard. That property is still a large, graffiti-covered vacant lot.
As they did after that fire, the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District has started a fund to help the five businesses. Donations can be made on GoFundMe or by emailing [email protected].

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