By Adam Kramer
The Oct. 8 fire at 90-40 144th Place in Jamaica, which destroyed the building, started in the basement, engulfed the building and caused enough damage to make it uninhabitable, said Francis Gribbon, a Fire Department spokesman.
“We conducted searches of the building, but due to the large amounts of debris, smoke and water, we did not locate the individual,” he said.
“He was hidden away, but that does not excuse us,” Gribbon said. “We are investigating how this happened.”
The Fire Department said the cause of the fire was careless smoking.
The body found Saturday by police and firemen was believed to be the remains of a man whose daughter recently filed a missing persons report at the 103rd Precinct, he said.
Gribbon said the body was found by the Police and Fire departments after they entered the boarded-up building and noticed an odor and then “pressed on.”
He said the building has been sealed since the fire, and it is boarded up because it is not fit for occupants.
The FDNY said the body was presumed to be the remains of the man who lived in the basement of the building who has not been seen since the October fire. The body was turned over to the medical examiner's office to officially identify him, police said.
Gribbon said none of the tenants in the building told Fire Department personnel that there was still one person unaccounted for after the early-morning, all-hands fire broke out. One person was rescued from the building, he said.
“At the time of the fire no one reported to us that the man was missing,” he said. “The tenants and the owner of the building said he had fled the scene.”
Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner, said the cause of death and the identity of the man have not been determined.