By Gina Martinez
A five-alarm fire tore through an Elmhurst apartment building Tuesday, forcing residents to evacuate the 112 units in the red brick building and injuring 11 firefighters, FDNY said.
The fire began around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon at Martinique Plaza at 56-11 94th St., blocks away from the Queens Center Mall. By 7:30 p.m. the blaze had escalated to a five-alarm fire, officials said. A total of 200 firefighters were at the scene to put out the heavy fire and had the blaze under control at 10:30 p.m, FDNY said.
The fire spread throughout the top floors of the seven-story building and there was a partial roof collapse, according to officials.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation, the Fire Department said.
No residents were injured in the fire. Four firefighters suffered serious injuries, with one taken to Cornell Hospital and the other three to Elmhurst Hospital. All were in stable condition. Seven firefighters sustained minor injuries, FDNY said.
The Red Cross set up a reception center at PS 13, directly across the street from the apartment house, and met with affected residents, providing them with food, beverages, health assistance and emotional support. The Red Cross still was not sure exactly how many families were displaced.
On Wednesday morning firefighters were allowing residents to get important belongings from their apartment. Bart Navani, who lived on the fifth floor and his neighbor and friend Robin Lama, were waiting on line to get what they could salvage from their apartments.
“I lived on the fifth floor,” Navani said. “My ceiling has collapsed, furniture gone, kitchen and bathroom are a mess. It’s pretty bad. I would say half my stuff is gone, half is salvageable, but I consider myself lucky because people on the sixth floor lost everything. It’s all gone.”
Navani and Lama stayed over at a friend’s house but were receiving help from the American Red Cross, which they called “amazing” and “very helpful”
Lama’s sixth floor apartment was damaged in the fire and was unlivable, he said. For now Lama does not know what happens next.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart