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Twelve FDNY Firefighters Injured In Warehouse Blaze

Twelve FDNY Firefighters Injured In Warehouse Blaze

Firefighters in Queens battled a stubborn blaze in attached commercial buildings.

San Jose Mercury News via YellowBrix

January 19, 2011

A dozen firefighters were injured battling a fire that raged overnight in a Queens warehouse, officials said Tuesday morning.

The blaze at 95-20 150th St. in Jamaica was so hard to handle that the Fire Department’s response reached a rare eighth alarm.

Flames erupted about 6 p.m. Monday, and the inferno was not contained until 4:44 a.m. Tuesday. The building continued to burn and smolder in pockets through the rainy morning, and firefighters were still on scene as of early afternoon, FDNY officials said.

“The flames were shooting 50 to 60 feet in the air. There were two or three explosions,” said Alan Grossman, who owns a business next door to the burned warehouse.

“I just heard, ‘Boom!’ – like a small tank exploding. The firemen looked at us and said, ‘I think you should back up now.’”

Nearly 500 firefighters had a hand in fighting the eight-alarm blaze. Roughly 60 firefighters are called in for each alarm.

Three of the injured firefighters suffered burns, including one who suffered second-degree burns over his head and face and had to be admitted to a Manhattan hospital, officials said.

The other injured firefighters were also taken to hospitals for treatment.

The warehouse, which stores materials for an unidentified company in the metal business, is deep and long. The dimensions allowed the fire to spread, causing portions of the roof to collapse.

That forced firefighters to change their tactics on the fly, resulting in the need to call in more manpower, FDNY Division 11 Deputy Chief Vinny Mandala said at the scene.

“They initially started with an interior attack, and then after they had some structural issues, they pulled everybody out,” Mandala said. “It will remain an exterior attack for the remainder.”

Grossman, 60, of East Rockaway, said he watched the fire through the night, fearing it would eventually spread to his steel business, which has been on the block for six decades.

“I watched in horror because I thought the building was going down,” Grossman said.

Firefighters prevented that from happening, and Grossman’s building suffered just water damage. He said firefighters put so much water on the fire that a loading bay alongside the warehouse filled with about 5 feet of water.

At one point, a firefighter fell into the water-filled bay, but emerged unharmed, Grossman said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, FDNY officials said.