Thursday, April 15, 2010

Three-Alarm Brush Fire Visible for Miles

By Patricia Adams

A beautiful Saturday afternoon in Howard Beach came to a halt when a three-alarm blaze tore through the brush along 165th Avenue at 83rd Street and continued along the brush line to 161st Avenue near 81st Street. High winds and very dry brush were cited as contributing to the high risk category for the area.

According to a fire department spokesman, Frank Dwyer, reports of the blaze initially reached emergency operators at 3:46 p.m through multiple calls to 911 from area residents. Locals watched as the rapidly spreading flames sent huge clouds of thick, black smoke billowing into the overhead sky.

FDNY was first to the scene, responding in 3.5 minutes with 33 units and 150 firefighters to battle the flaming brush. Two tower ladders and eight hoses on the ground were used to extinguish most of the pockets of fire in slightly less than one hour. Crowds of residents and passersby stood along the course of the brush as firefighters battled the flames that grew as a result of the windy conditions of the day. The entire fire was knocked down and under control in 1 hour and 16 minutes.

Smoke that filled the sky over Howard Beach was seen as far as Manhattan’s South Street Seaport and spread charred brush and debris across the area. The intense heat and flames came within dangerous proximity to vehicles parked alongside the brush and houses across the street.

The flames were heading away from Jamaica Bay in the direction of the wind, with crowds of onlookers being sprayed by wind-blown water. Firefighters broke up into several units working their way from 161st Avenue over to 165th Avenue.

Despite flames that came so close to property lines, no houses were damaged and there were no injuries reported.

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