21 people injured, 240 displaced after a fire decimated an apartment building in Queens

21 people injured, 240 displaced after a fire decimated an apartment building in Queens
The New York City Fire Department battled a fire that left 21 people injured in Queens.FDNY/Twitter
  • 350 firefighters are battling a blaze that gutted a Jackson Heights apartment building in Queens, New York.
  • At least 21 people - including 16 firefighters and five civilians - were injured in the fire.
  • The fire tore through the building, which housed around 150 apartments - leaving at least 240 homeless.

Some 350 firefighters are still battling a blaze that gutted a Jackson Heights apartment building in Queens, New York.

At least 21 people - including 16 firefighters and five civilians - were injured in the fire, which tore through the 150-apartment building.

It is estimated that around 90 families - amounting to around 240 people - were left without homes to return to after firefighters from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) evacuated the building.
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FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala said in a statement that FDNY and emergency service personnel were still on the scene. As of 9 pm, the FDNY had been fighting the fire for over eight hours, but Gala said that it was "still not under control."

"We will be here through the night. Thankfully, we have no serious, life-threatening injuries. We're up to 21 patients. That includes 16 firefighters who have been transported to area hospitals," Gala said.

CNN affiliate WABC spoke to some residents in the building who managed to escape the building in the nick of time.
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"Everybody was panicking, all you see is the smoke. When you came out of the building, you couldn't see anything. it was just all gray," resident Edwin Martinez told WABC.

Resident Kimberly Singhi told WABC that she "got scared" when "everything went black." "I grabbed my mom, I grabbed my dog and the pets we have, and we just ran out," Singhi said.
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The cause of the eight-alarm fire has yet to be determined, but FDNY firefighters are still trying to control the blaze from the outside, with a "total exterior operation" and four tower ladders.

Gala called the fire a "complicated and prolonged operation, with heavy smoke and heavy heat conditions," adding that the fire had spread rapidly and consumed one side of the "wide and deep" building.

An earlier statement from FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro noted that the fire had started on the sixth floor of the apartment building. The fire then spread quickly and engulfed the loft - the area between the apartment's ceiling and the roof, said Nigro.
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Nigro said: "This is very difficult for our members, very taxing, and we'll be here for some time."

He said as well that the fire had spread so rapidly because the occupant of the unit that caught fire fled leaving the door open.

"The occupant fled and left the door open. We've stressed over the years the seriousness of that. If you do unfortunately have a fire in your home, it's important to close that door because the fire spreads out into the hallway and units are unable to make a quick advance," he added.
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"What we see here is now a 7-alarm that could possibly have been avoided."

The blaze is Jackson Heights' second massive fire in a month. On March 4, a fire that started at the Prince Kebab and Chinese Restaurant on 37-56 74th St. engulfed a row of six stores in the Queens neighborhood. It took the FDNY almost six hours and 160 firefighters to bring it under control.

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