1999-06-30 / Front Page

Fire Destroys Plastic Factory In Astoria

Burned out of their apartments by a five-alarm fire Saturday morning in Astoria, eight families have been relocated to temporary housing by the American Red Cross.

No residents of the building were injured in the blaze in the storage yard of the Pop Display Company at 11-12 30th Dr., Astoria.

Several of the 225 firefighters who fought the stubborn inferno were injured and treated at nearby hospitals.

Scott Shirmer of Rescue Company 4, sustained second degree burns to his legs. William Freese, Engine Company 262, was treated for head trauma. Edward Curley, of Rescue Company 4, and John Schillinger of Ladder Company 178 were treated for smoke inhalation, and Robert Brown, Engine Company 262 was treated for back injuries.

The Red Cross and the city Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) could provide no information on the relocated families.

The fire, fed by highly flammable materials used in manufacturing plastic products, started about 11 a.m. and continued for more than two hours. It started in the company’s storage yard and spread to and destroyed eight apartments in the adjoining four-story apartment building. About 52 engines responded to the fire; according to Fire Department officials.

According to First Deputy Fire Commissioner William Feehan, manufacturing materials used in the factory included propane in cylinders, several of which exploded when flames reached them. Other materials stored there were motor oil and hydraulic fuel and styrene plastics.

The cause of the fire was listed as undetermined.

One of the burned out apartment dwellers, Maria Cardenas, 38, got a scare when she returned from grocery shopping. She could not find her 15-year-old son, John, and moved through a crowd of onlookers asking in Spanish if anyone had seen him. Shortly after she found him with neighbors, safe and unharmed.— John Toscano

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