2016-11-09 / Front Page

Probe Astoria Construction Site Arson

By Liz Goff
Fire and police officials are seeking help from the public to help identify and locate the suspect(s) who vandalized and torched two construction vehicles, tools and equipment belonging to a contractor working on a small playground beneath the RFK Triborough Bridge in Astoria.

Fire officials said several units were called to the scene at about 11 p.m. on November 1, to extinguish a blaze that engulfed a backhoe owned by the contractor, Brighton Builder LLC.
The windshield on the backhoe, valued at $120,000, had been bashed and the vehicle’s electrical system was torched in the blaze, a fire spokesperson said. The fire also destroyed a generator and assorted power tools that had been stored in the backhoe.
Firefighters were called to the scene for a second time at about 3:45 a.m. on November 2, to extinguish a blaze that destroyed a van containing an unreleased quantity of polyurethane glue, fire officials said.
The glue was being stored in the van for use in installing equipment at a playground that is under construction at the site, fire officials said.
The two vehicles had been parked underneath the RFK Triborough Bridge at 21st Street, between Hoyt Avenue North and Astoria Park South.
Brighton Builder LLC has been working at the site since April, repaving the area as part of a more than $2 million project under contract with the city Department of Parks and Recreation.
A Parks Department spokesperson said there was no damage to playground equipment stored at the location. The project should be completed near schedule, the spokesperson said.
Police and fire investigators are reviewing surveillance footage provided by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority to help identify the suspect(s), police said.
“The investigators are looking at a lot of possibilities, including a disgruntled neighbor or action on the part of a union worker,” a law enforcement source said.
Anyone with information is urged to call the NYPD CrimeStoppers HOTLINE at 1-800-577-TIPS or click on  HYPERLINK "http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com" www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
The HOTLINE is offering a reward of up to $2,500 to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s).

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