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String of fires plague borough

By Gabriel Rom

A string of fires has broken out across the borough since the month began, leaving one elderly man dead as well as a restaurant and three homes severely damaged. Much of the mayhem occurred in Forest Hills.

Early Tuesday morning, an 86-year-old Howard Beach World War II veteran was killed in a fire probably sparked by a faulty space heater, fire officials said.

Firefighters arrived at Leonard Manzo’s first-floor apartment on 88th Street near 155th Avenue in Howard Beach about 4:05 a.m. and found him unconscious.

Manzo was rushed to Jamaica Hospital but could not be saved.

It took firefighters about 50 minutes to bring the blaze under control.
Early in the morning of Nov. 1, a fire was reported at the celebrated Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen in Forest Hills.

The flames broke out around 2:30 a.m. in the boiler room, causing “severe destruction,” the restaurant and FDNY said. No injuries were reported.

Fire marshals determined that “the fire began in the boiler room, originating at a water heater which was too close to combustible materials,” fire officials said Tuesday.

The restaurant, at 104-02 Metropolitan Ave., is not accepting reservations at this time. It has also been calling patrons who had reservations for later this month to cancel them.

Later that night, near 112th Street in Forest Hills, a massive three-alarm fire burned one home to the ground and severely damaged two others, police and firefighters said.

Firefighters first got a call about that blaze at 7:31 p.m.

“I looked out my window and I saw flames going up more than 50 feet high,” said Bob Kinney, a Forest Hills resident who lives in a nearby residential tower. “It was absolutely huge. I’ve never seen a fire so big, the whole thing was engulfed in flames. I thought it may be a gas fire.”

The multi-house fire began in a home that is under construction and quickly spread to two other residencies. The three houses were detached.

The fire was successfully extinguished and no injuries were reported.

On Monday morning, the smell of charred wood and rubber still hung in the air. Across the street from the burned homes, workers from the city Department of Environmental Protection dug up underground water lines. It was unclear whether houses on the avenue had lost access to water.

According to the FDNY, the fire was considered suspicious because of how fast the flames spread. The cause was under investigation.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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