Contractor cuffed on arson charges in wake of five-alarm inferno at Elmhurst apartment house

Fire marshals said Declan Mcelhatton (inset) left an open flame near combustibles that sparked a five-alarm fire in Elmhurst on April 11.
Photo: Robert Pozarycki/QNS, with Inset via Twitter/@FDNY

Fire marshals arrested a contractor on Wednesday for his alleged role in igniting a five-alarm fire at an Elmhurst apartment building that left scores of families homeless.

According to the Fire Department, Declan Mcelhatton, 53, of Maintenance Asset Management based in Yonkers allegedly left an open flame near combustibles inside the seven-story structure on 94th Street near 56th Avenue on the evening of April 11.

Fire Marshals said this ignited the inferno at about 6:30 p.m. and quickly spread through the upper floors of the structure. More than 200 firefighters worked for four hours to bring the fire under control; 11 of them suffered minor injuries.

More than 144 people were left homeless as a result of the blaze, according to the American Red Cross. Many of them sought shelter overnight at a nearby school.

Mcelhatton is facing charges of arson and reckless endangerment, the Fire Department said.