April 19, 2021 By Christina Santucci
More than 100 families displaced by an eight-alarm fire in Jackson Heights earlier this month will be able to stay in emergency lodging until June 20, the mayor announced Friday.
“The city will provide Queens families displaced from this month’s fire with an extra two months of temporary housing to get back on their feet,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.
Temporary lodging in hotels was initially provided by the Red Cross for 102 families, and last week, the city extended the emergency shelter through April 20.
The second extension was announced after Andrew Sokolof-Diaz, president of the 89th Street Tenants Unidos Association, called into Brian Lehrer’s Ask the Mayor segment Friday. The group represents the residents of the burned buildings – at 89-07 and 89-11 34th Ave. Sokolof-Diaz asked the mayor to help the tenants.
“We will extend the hotels for now, and then we are going to try and figure out what is a good, larger solution to help you and all of the families that have gone through this,” de Blasio told Sokolof-Diaz.
More than 400 residents – from 133 apartments – were displaced from the buildings, and no official timeline has been announced for when they may be able to return. A full vacate order is in effect for both buildings as of Sunday, according to Department of Buildings records.
Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights, thanked the mayor for the extension Friday.
“Glad you agree there is no reason to further displace these residents. Now, we need to get them food on a regular basis,” he wrote on Twitter.
A spokesperson for the Red Cross said the organization had registered 134 families – with a total of 472 people – after the blaze. Some residents displaced by the fire were staying with relatives and friends.
“This was a horrible, devastating fire with hundreds of people affected, ” the mayor said.
About 400 firefighters and medics responded to six-story buildings just after 1 p.m. April 6 after the fire was reported on the top floor.
New York City fire marshals said an overloaded power strip caused the massive blaze, which injured 21 people, including 16 firefighters.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the door to the apartment where the blaze began was left open – and there was a 10-minute delay before 911 was called – allowing the fire to spread.
“NEVER overload extension cords with multiple items, appliances or power strips,” fire officials posted on Twitter. “Remember – extension cords are for temporary use only.”
Tenant organizers have been collecting donations for displaced residents through a GoFundMe drive, which had raised more than $345,000 as of Sunday towards its $500,000 goal.
Community groups, such as the Love Wins Food Pantry, fellow Queens residents and businesses, like the Tortas Neza food truck, have also pitched in to help those affected by the fire.
The person who started the fire was apparently ignorant about fire safety and recklessly endangered the lives of the residents.He should be barred from ever obtaining any type of permanent housing.I certainly wouldn’t want him living in my apartment building putting myself and other people at risk.