Bellerose fire damages bar, kills cat living above

A firefighter battles a two-alarm fire at Uncle Buddy's Tavern in Bellerose. Four firefighters were injured, including two severely, and taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
By Howard Koplowitz

The smell of smoke lingered Monday on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and 244th Street, three days after a two-alarm fire tore through a bar on the corner, displacing a tenant above the watering hole and killing his cat, residents said.

Uncle Buddy’s, at 244-02 Jericho Tnpk. in Bellerose Village, L.I., has been closed since the fire.

The bar used to be called The Border because it is situated on the border between Nassau and Queens counties, but was changed to Uncle Buddy’s after its new owner’s uncle lent him money to open the bar.

The two-alarm fire was called in at 9:10 a.m. Friday and firefighters took four minutes to get to the scene, an FDNY spokesman said.

Firefighters put the blaze, which was still under investigation as of Tuesday, under control at 10:12 a.m. Friday, the spokesman said.

Four firefighters were injured in the blaze, including two seriously, and were taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the spokesman said.

An Uncle Buddy’s patron of 30 years said the bar is a loss to the community.

“It’s one of the best bars in the neighborhood. Of course, I’m going to miss it,” said the patron, who did not want to reveal his name. “Those guys, I really feel bad for them. Good people. They always cleaned the block, always stepped up. They were good to the community.”

The patron said the occupant of the apartment above the bar was saved, but his cat, Fluffy, did not make it out alive.

“Poor Eddie Hafner lost his apartment. His cat died up there. A lot of people got hurt by it. Bad fire,” he said.

Hafner, who the patron said may be living with a relative in Bellerose, could not be reached for comment.

Bellerose resident Lucille Euxelben, who works at the nearby bar The Finish Line, said she saw smoke coming out of Uncle Buddy’s as she passed by.

“It’s terrible,” she said.

John Casolany of Bellerose, who was drinking Monday night at The Finish Line, called the fire at Uncle Buddy’s “a big loss.”

“This neighborhood lost a good bar,” he said. “It would be great if they reopened the bar, but we don’t know if that’s going to happen. A fire has a big effect on a neighborhood.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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