By Christina Santucci
Fire officials were trying to find out what caused a Richmond Hill blaze early Saturday that left one man with serious burns and appeared to separate the front of the multi-family home from the rest of the building.
A spokesman for the FDNY said Saturday evening that fire marshals were conducting a standard investigation into the fire, which was concentrated in the basement at 87-40 124th St.
Emergency responders were called to the scene just after 1 a.m. Saturday, and the blaze was upgraded to an all-hands fire at 1:11 a.m., the spokesman said.
One man was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in serious condition to be treated for burns, and two other people were brought to Jamaica Hospital with minor injuries, the Fire Department said.
A full vacate was issued for the building Saturday, according to the city Department of Buildings website, which listed a comment that “structural stability [was] compromised by [a] gas explosion in cellar.”
A spokesman for the Red Cross said the agency had assisted three families, including six adults and four children, with emergency housing and money for food and clothing, and would help residents of the other three apartments if they needed assistance.
Victoria Gonzalez, who grew up in the home and still lives in the neighborhood, said she was on the phone with her friend, who lives on the first floor, when the blaze began.
“It was just a big loud boom.” she said, explaining that her friend was lifted from the chair she was sitting in by the force of the blast.
Gonzalez and her neighbors were also planning to visit the man they called Ako, who she said had lived in one of two basement apartments and was the one seriously injured in the fire.
Fabian Diaz, who lives next door to the home, said he heard two explosion sounds.
“I thought they were dropping bombs,” he said.
When he and his friend ran out onto the street, they saw an orange glow of flames inside the basement through the blasted out windows.
Window casings and glass littered 124th Street later Saturday, and the front of the home appeared as if it had slid away from the rest of the structure, making it possible to see into the house’s interior from the street.
A police officer was stationed outside to prevent anyone besides investigators from getting too close.
Reach Managing Editor Christina Santucci by phone at 718-260-4589 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.