Bayside fire leads to damage at two businesses blaming each other for their problems

Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

Who’s to blame for a Bayside blaze on Sunday morning? That’s a burning question.

A fire that had a Citibank branch on Bell Boulevard in Bayside shut down on Feb. 3 also had the neighboring hookah lounge out of commission. Reports conflicted as to whether the blaze started at the bank or at the hookah lounge.

A security guard at the branch located at 39-01 Bell Blvd. told QNS that the fire had started with the neighboring House of Hookah and affected the bank to the point where it was still closed and covered in police tape the following day.

FDNY, however, told QNS that a caller reported smoke in the front entrance of the bank and firefighters later found its source in the ceiling of the House of Hookah at 39-07 Bell Blvd.

According to the FDNY spokesman, the fire was under control by 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 3.

But when QNS spoke to a source connected to the House of Hookah, they claimed the bank was shifting blame onto them even though the fire allegedly started in a basement only accessible to Citibank.

“It happened in an area where we have no access,” the source said, accusing Citibank of “shifting the blame.”

The source said FDNY had to bust through a wall in the back of the lounge to access the fire in the underground area near the back of the building. But the lounge’s basement only extends about 20 feet from the street, according to the source.

Caution tape was had the sidewalk in front of Citibank closed off by about 10 feet out while the House of Hookah did not have any tape around it, though work was taking place in the storefront.

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