2015-12-02 / Front Page

Probers Eye Landlord-Tenant Dispute In Astoria Blaze

By Liz Goff
Investigators probing a two-alarm fire that tore through an Astoria apartment building on Thanksgiving eve are trying to determine if an ongoing dispute between the building owner and a tenant could have sparked the blaze.

Fire officials said the blaze broke out in a second-floor apartment at the building at 31-18 35th Street in Astoria at about 10:30 a.m. on November 25.

Firefighters who responded to the scene found the apartment fully engulfed in flames, a fire spokesperson said. Smoke and flames quickly spread to the top of the five-story apartment building, trapping four people inside their apartments, fire officials said.

Firefighters pulled three people from the blaze who were treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries at the scene, fire officials said. A fourth person pulled form the blaze was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Traffic on the nearby Broadway commercial strip and other local streets was backed up while firefighters battled the blaze for about one hour before it was declared under control. Fire officials have declared the causes as suspicious.

Inspectors at the city Department of Buildings (DOB) arrived at the scene a short while later to determine the extent of damage caused by the blaze. A DOB spokesperson said the fire caused major damage to the second-floor apartment and serious damage to a third-floor apartment. Other units involved in the fire suffered varying amounts of smoke and water damage, the spokesperson said.

Re3 Cross workers arrived at the scene shortly after a first alarm was called, to offer assistance and help find shelter for displaced tenants.

Law enforcement sources said investigators are working to determine if either party in the landlord-tenant dispute is responsible for the fire. “Maybe, maybe not,” the sources said. “Nothing is clear at this point. That’s why they’re looking into it.”

Fire officials said the cause remains unclear, pending the completion of an ongoing investigation.

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