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Arson Charges Dropped Against Contractor Involved in 5-Alarm Apartment Fire


Jan. 26, 2018 By Tara Law

Charges have been dropped against a contractor who was accused of starting a five-alarm fire at an Elmhurst apartment building in April.

Declan McElhatton, 53, from Yonkers, had been charged with reckless endangerment and arson for the April 11 fire at 56-11 94th Street, two blocks north of the Queens Center Mall.

The District Attorney’s office announced Jan. 16 that the case was dismissed and sealed.

“While we do believe there was a probable cause for the fire marshals to make the arrest, after a lengthy investigation at this time we do not believe we are able to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Assistant District Attorney Charissa Ilardi, according to court records.

Nearly 200 firefighters responded to the fire and 11 firefighters were injured. All 112 apartments in the building were damaged or destroyed and 175 residents were displaced.

The FDNY determined that McElhatton, who was contracted to do work on the roof, failed to use a blow torch properly. The cause of the fire, according to the FDNY, was an open flame left near combustible materials.

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