Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fire Destorys Building; Tenants Escape Injury

By Patricia Adams

Xavier Batista was awakened by a smoke detector Monday morning at about 7:15 in his Ozone Park apartment. “I opened the door to check on my neighbor.” Batista said he was met by heavy smoke in the hallway and tried to kick in the front door but it wouldn’t budge.

“I was afraid that he was in there sleeping but the door wouldn’t move.” The DEP worker raced back to his own apartment, called 911 and ran from the burning building escaping injury.

“The fire department was here very quickly. It seemed like no more than a minute or two, and they did a great job.” His neighbor, he learned later, had left for work at 4:30 that morning. “Thank God he wasn’t in there and that no one else got hurt. We are all very lucky.”

“My apartment is completely destroyed,” Batista said. “The firemen had to chop up the roof to get the fire out and now there is about 4 feet of water in the basement.” Until he finds a new apartment or his is rebuilt he will be staying nearby with his daughter and son-inlaw.

Fire marshalls are still investigating the cause of the three-alarm blaze at Crossbay and Linden Boulevards that began in on the top floor above the E Studio Salon and Spa and spread to the adjacent Best Cleaners and to an apartment above Heavenly Florist at the corner. Three apartments above the stores were destroyed in the fire; the building that Batista has lived in for nine years now has an order to vacate pasted to its doors.

Marlo Hirshfield and her sister Rosemarie Rossomangno, the owners of Heavenly Florist, say they began receiving calls on their cell phones to say that the store was burning. “We were devastated when we heard the news,” said Marlo, but upon arrival at the store, their devastation turned to joy. “It’s absolutely unbelievable but our store is completely intact. Nothing was damaged. We don’t even have any water in the store.”

“All I can say is that this is a blessing from God,” said Hirshfield. “We have a bride this weekend, Valentines Day is coming up and with things the way they are with the economy we would have been out of business if the fire had reached us. We are blessed.” Another tenant, living above the florist was rescued with her two children, an infant and a toddler, and taken from the burning apartment by firefighters.

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