April 7, 2021 By Allie Griffin
An eight-alarm fire that tore through a Jackson Heights apartment building Tuesday night has left hundreds homeless and resulted in 25 people being injured.
The fire started inside an apartment located at 89-07 34th Ave. shortly after 1 p.m. and quickly spread throughout the building. By 8 p.m., it had been upgraded to an eight alarm blaze, with more than 350 firefighters and EMS personnel at the scene.
Firefighters were finally able to get the fire under control at 12:07 a.m., but the flames damaged the majority of the 133-unit building, a FDNY spokesperson said.
“It took the department eight alarms and almost 12 hours to place the fire under control, working inside [and] outside, causing many injuries to our members and some injuries to civilians,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at the scene this morning.
In total, 19 firefighters and six civilians were injured. None of the injuries were life-threatening, the spokesperson said.
The flames spread throughout the building since the occupants of the apartment where the fire started left their front door open. Furthermore, they waited 10 minutes before calling 911, Nigro said.
The apartment was on the top floor of the six-story building.
“Thankfully, this fire was on the top floor,” Nigro said. “Had this fire been lower in the building, it could have had a terrible result in loss of life with that door being left open.”
FDNY members are operating on scene of a 5-alarm fire at 89-07 34th Avenue in Queens. pic.twitter.com/jRHUpQbL5l
— FDNY (@FDNY) April 6, 2021
Nigro said that fire marshals have been unable to enter the building yet to conduct an investigation into the cause of the fire, but it is not believed to be suspicious.
Jackson Heights community members are now organizing efforts to help the 130 families — more than 400 people in total, according to organizers — who lived in the building and have been displaced.
A GoFundMe page was set up for the families by one of the organizers of a local LGBTQ-run food pantry called “Love Wins” and it has raised more than $100,000 in just 13 hours.
“A community made up of majority low-income, working class, immigrant essential workers, already experiencing the aftermath of COVID-19 are now without their homes,” Daniel Puerto wrote in the description of the GoFundMe.
“It’s hard to express the deep sadness we felt tonight as we looked into our neighbors eyes and asked how we could help,” Puerto added.
The fundraiser aims to raise $250,000 for the families displaced in the fire. Shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, roughly 1,100 people have collectively donated more than $105,000.
The Red Cross has been helping the displaced families by providing them hotel rooms.
Neighbors are also collecting donations for the affected residents from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Southridge Courtyard, located at 33-45 90th St. They are asking people to donate items like PPE, hand sanitizer, toiletries, diapers, baby bottles and formula, feminine hygiene products, blankets, pillows, phone chargers, pet food, water and food.
Supporters of the 34th Avenue Open Street as well as numerous local mutual aid groups and individual neighbors have all stepped up to help the victims of the fire.
Families affected by the fire can call the Red Cross hotline at 1-877-733-2767 for assistance. The hotline operators can help people with finding temporary shelter, as well as mental health support, financial assistance and health services.