By Chauncey Alcorn
A two-alarm fire on Vernon Boulevard Friday damaged two apartments and closed two businesses but caused no major injuries, according to the FDNY. But one casualty of the blaze at 47-35 Vernon Boulevard was the birthday party of a 5-year-old girl in the neighboring building, witnesses said.
The fire was discovered at about 1:30 p.m. Friday and did not result in any serious injuries to firefighters or civillians, a Fire Department spokesman said Monday.
Rabbi Zev Wineberg and his wife, Rivka, were throwing a birthday bash for their daughter, Muka Hadassah, and eight of her young friends around 1:30 p.m. at Chabad of Long Island City-Astoria, the rabbi’s rented storefront synagogue and home, which sits above the New City Restaurant, a Chinese food business located at 47-31 Vernon Blvd.
Esther Lebovic, the rabbi’s sister-in-law, said she and the family were setting up for the party when they started smelling smoke.
“We smelled smoke for a while and we thought it was coming from the oven because we were cooking, but then we opened the oven and there was no smoke inside and we heard a guy outside screaming, ‘It’s coming from the next house!’” Lebovic said, standing on the sidewalk with friends and children who attended the party.
The family quickly escorted the children from the building and called 911 and later called the children’s parents and some family friends, Lebovic said. Friends of the Winebergs came to the scene along with firemen to help, Lebovic said.
An FDNY investigation located the source of the fire in the electrical wiring above the kitchen of the second-floor apartment at 47-35 Vernon Blvd., which is a three-story building, an FDNY spokesman said Monday.
Yee’s Market Deli and Grocery, which is located on the ground floor at 47-35 Vernon Blvd., and the neighboring New City Restaurant suffered heavy damage and were closed Friday.