Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fire in illegal basement apartment kills 3 in Woodside

From NY1:

Investigators are looking into what started a deadly house fire in Queens that killed three people and injured four others this morning.

Fire Department officials say flames broke out about 2:45 a.m. in the basement of a home on 65th Place in Woodside.

Two people died in the house and one died at Elmhurst Hospital.

Four others were taken to Woodhull Burn Center, but their injuries and conditions are unknown.

Fire officials also say the city Department of Buildings issued three violations, including illegal occupancy and work being done without a permit.


NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Three people were killed in a fire in the Woodside section of Queens in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Four other people were injured in the blaze, including at least one person with third degree burns.

The Fire Department says the house on 65th Place was illegally subdivided, with two apartments in the basement, where the bodies were found.

The Buildings Department cited the owners with three violations prior to and after the fire.

Relatives of the owners told 1010 WINS that the fire may have been sparked by faulty electric heaters. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

From the NY Post:

The home - owned by Subir and Marina Barua since 1996 - was illegally divided into a five-family home, with five kitchens and five bathrooms, according to the Department of Buildings, which issued violations this morning.

But five families were not living there - DOB said the house was divided into seven rooms for single occupancy, with residents sharing bathrooms and kitchens. Four people were living in SROs in the basement, where the fire started, authorities said.


georgetheatheist said...

I'm sure that our illustrious Borough President Helen Marshall ran there to immediately handle this emergency. Just like she runs to the groaning boards at the various borough dinner buffets.
("Where's the shrimp?")

Anonymous said...

I think that she was spotted on site---with a stick and marshmallows!!! Hey, I guess we can start calling her Helen Marshmallow!

Anonymous said...

All kidding aside, when is someone going to take the responsibility of finding and shutting down these illegal AND DEADLY housing units that are littering this borough and the rest of this city? I guess we will have 4 more years of death and destruction. We have the best Buildings Department that money can buy.

Anonymous said...

("Where's the shrimp?")
he got re-elected for a 3rd term.... = (

Anonymous said...

of course, no one bothered to complain about lack of heat to 311, putting the absence of an essential service on record. they merely plugged in electric heaters that probably tenants were paying for. Part of the don't rock the boat school of thought. Or don't make waves or the slumlord will threaten us school of thought.

I have observed housing court judges ordering slumlords to remove appliances from basement apartment and immediately evict tenants. In about six months, slumlord is back in business with new tenants paying even more monthly rent.

The kicker is that slumlord is not paying appropriate taxes to city, state or federal government. Because of that and the defective Certificate of Occupancy, no one in the premises should be paying any rent at all.
was wondering what the exact address is. bet there were no smoke/carbon monoxide alarms in the premises.

Anonymous said...

Tell me that an immigrant owns the building and has made it into an overpriced illegal boarding house.
is this near the LIRR and the Kreepy Korean church, yet another one w/ the red neon cross?

Fed Up said...

"Because of that and the defective Certificate of Occupancy, no one in the premises should be paying any rent at all."

When I read your comment, a previous posting came to mind. It contained a link to the CO's of the new complex going up at Roosevelt and College Point Blvd. called Sky Parc condos or something like that. Here is a link:

All I can say is WTF? However, I took it a step further because there are people posting here that are scolding us for not doing our own homework.

The address for the first CO was 144-37 76th Ave and here is the CO on record:

Oops. It disappeared! Perhaps we should revisit the Houdini article that Queens Crap posted a few days ago?

The next address has 2 CO's (the original and an update) and they are appropriate for the address
266-19 Union Turnpike

With such administrative confusion, does anyone really expect that the Department of Buildings is up to the task of finding safety issues and dealing with them? I think not! Thank you fellow New Yorkers for giving a despotic billionaire a chance to rape and pillage NYC for another 4 years...and 4 more after that? What will his next excuse be? WAKE UP AMERICA...before it is too late.

Willing To Learn said...

Taking the cue from the previous poster, I looked up 42-40 65th Place (the address where the fire occurred) on the NYC.Gov site under the buildings section and found this:

And there is no CO:

Where is the media getting the info about violations on the property? I couldn't find it. Is it me or is there a serious disconnect?

Queens Crap is a very educational site. Perhaps someone could walk me through this thing because I would like to learn more about using the site to research other concerns.

Anonymous said...

I lived in an illegal queens dwelling for 2 years. The landlord after converting the place into an illegal rooming house rented to a total of 10 households in a 2 family house. People had illegal cooking apparatus and heaters in each room. That place will go up at some point as well, killing plenty of people. I tried complaining. The landlord threatened me. He mostly rented to thugs ex cons crackheads and illegal mexicans. I called the DOB they showed up and when denied access, never came back. These slumlords should be arrested for manslaughter then their properties go up in flames.

Anonymous said...

shouldn't the landlords be arrested and prosecuted for murder. After all they knew their actions, illegally dividing the house, could lead to serious injury and death. I hope the relatives of those killed sued for wrongful death. Maybe that will send a message to other homeowners thinking of dividing their homes without the proper permits.

Anonymous said...


In Bloomberg's effort to decrease response times by having civilian operators take reports of fires without double-checking addresses, and frequently sending FD units to wrong locations, 3 civilians died last night.

The first due companies, Engine 292 and Rescue Co. 4 which are 2 BLOCKS from the fire were sent in the opposite direction down 62nd St which delayed the first firefighting operations by as much as 2 minutes. The fire was on 65th Pl north of Queens Blvd. These companies had to turn around and go back PAST their firehouse to get to the fire.

Less recently, an apartment fire in Briarwood killed 1 civilian because of the UCT system. The first ladder company was sent to the wrong address, and were already on the 5th floor searching for the caller's apartment when the correct address was given to them.

Citizens of Queens, your time to speak out was November 3rd, obviously not enough of you turned out to the polls. Expect 4 more years of this.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't building inspections for certain types of violations require mandatory action? If necessary, perhaps the police department should be deployed as well. The excuse of not gaining access doesn't make it for me any longer. I don't believe them or perhaps they are not working hard enough...or they are severely understaffed (thank you Bloomturd). People are dying and the administration is lying.

Anonymous said...

An illegal residence in Woodside. I never knew. Hey, I wonder if there are any more in Queens......???? Nahhhhhh, I am sure the Department of Buildings would be on top of it right????

Sid? said...

At this stage, the problem is completely out of hand (not only in Woodside, but in other neighborhoods, as well) ... perhaps it is a lost cause trying to hold slumlords and absentee landlords accountable. Another life time ago, I remember when this scum just abandoned their properties and let the city to rot. I wonder if the same cycle will repeat? Nonetheless, I feel very sorry for the firemen--they deserve better-- and for the remaining middle class residents (regardless of color, race, ethnicity)who taught they could build prosperous and happy lives here.

Alan Gross said...

I am pleased to see that people are researching information and posting links. That's what I'm talking about. Thanks for sharing as those DOB records are very telling. How come the media are reporting that the structure had violations and yet they are not listed on the site for the address of the fire? Something seems amiss.

Anonymous said...

Allow architects to self certify CO and bing0 you have a 3 family instead of 2 for a nice 25k markup.

In boom RE times, working poor immigrants who save just enough of a down payment got a mortgage and 100k on top to renovate ( convert ) the property into multiple dwellings to insure they could finance it all.

RE offices coyly and quietly suggested this could be done and marketed to Asians this option for properties that had good size basements with garages. Also some classic farm houses were considered ideal to convert to 2 families or carve out 15 sleeping nooks to rent to illegal immigrant resturant works pushed out lower Manhattan.

What occurred in Woodside has the potential to occur everywhere because so many dwellings are like this now in Queens. The Building Dept has never or ever will make any effort to shut them down. The owners must be prosecuted for breaking the law, including prosecuting the architect or contractor whom illegaly made the modifications to cause the deaths.

Anonymous said...

Maspeth moms says...

We see articles in the newspapers about fireman creating cookbooks and entering cook offs on CITY TIME. Why dont they stop all the fancy cooking, and go up and down local streets and ring bells and ask to do a fire inspections in homes and local businesses. Granted most people wont let them in but at least the landlords of these illegal homes will know it is a matter of time before they get caught.
They would be out on the street, ready to go at a moments notice, and not wasting city money, or shopping in Pioneer flirting with the cashiers.

Anonymous said...

If Queens Civic Congress stops issuing telephone book sized position papers (that no one reads) and toading up to pols for ice cream money, and started bashing the pols for doing this, we might start to make some progress.

Naw, lets have an annal I mean annual politican luncheon at a fancy eastern Queens location far away from this stuff and smile and take a bunch of photo ops.

Anonymous said...

I never see stuff like this a the Community Preservation Center, Landmarks Conservency, or the alphabet soup of MAS, HDC, etc.

Pratt doesn't do a study on these things.

Naw, its not a problem in Brooklyn Heights.

As far as the official community presevation body is concerned, its not a problem for anyone

.... that counts.

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

Vallone said, “The rezoning is an effort to prevent people from tearing down existing buildings to construct new buildings that are out of character, while allowing homeowners to improve and expand their property in context with the area.”

Look, when a politican sends out coded statements like this, everyone knows what they are saying.

You need to write to him, publish a copy in the Gazette, and send a copy to Crappy, on sponsoring legistlation to stop illegal conversions.

And do it over and over and over again.

he he he he

Anonymous said...

The laws need to be changed so that the DOB can't cop out after being unable to gain access. The people who rent, as well as own these houses need to be fined. When I've rented apartments, I've made sure that they were legal.

Auntie Invasion said...

from yesterday's comments:
"Tell me that an immigrant owns the building and has made it into an overpriced illegal boarding house."

from Today's NY Post 11-8-09
911's 'fatal typo'
As Qns. fire kills 3

" The fire apparently began when the boiler exploded in the basement of the wood-frame house, which belongs to Bangladeshi immigrants Subir and Marina Barua.

The structure is supposed to be a two-family house, but was illegally divided into at least four single-occupancy rooms in the basement and two apartments on the second floor, authorities said."

And the fix is already in.... blame the NYFD & NYC for the negligence of the property owner?

stop the illegal dwellings, build real affordable housing & get rid of illegal immigrants. If there were no illegal immigrants they couldn't be here to live in these kinds of places and wouldn't be taking jobs/apartments/benefits away from Americans.

Start with the Mexican/Central American MALE day laborers who hang around the park at 65th street in Woodside. (you never see a woman there) Probably some of them put up the partitions, are these under the table goons ever going to be held responsible? Call up that organization that enables them and ask them.

no... they're illegal immigrants, they're the perfect victims. The locals, we're the big bad wolf.

Illegal immigration is to blame for these deaths.

Anonymous said...

The correct address is 42-40 65th Street not Place. Also it was window bars on each and every window that trapped the people in the fire. Broiled liked 'Chicken in a basket' at a Bangladesh cook out. The city should ban window bars. What is the point of installing window that open to 42" for emergency exits if the landlord puts on jail house bars?

Willing To Learn said...

I stand corrected. Actually, I looked up the address as I was watching the news and 65th Place was the address that they kept reporting as the location of the fire. Reliable media, right? So here is the DOB file for that address:

There is a lot to go through but there were 2 violations on the building issued on 11/7/09. The previous inspection was in 2004 and I found this:


Hmmmm. Is anyone else suspicious of the DOB? Check out that link and follow the other links while you are there.

Anonymous said...

According to the DOB site for 42-4 65th St. in June 2006, ECB violations for "failure to maintain exterior building wall, defect is concrete retaining wall located at rear of property has collapsed into common driveway..remedy make safe immediately, make all necessary repairs" this noted by inspector 1871. A hearing was scheduled and then dismissed with no penalties ($$$). Presently...on 11/07/09 at 10:06 an "Overview for complaint #4424185 =ACTIVE" was lodged for Illegal conversion from 2-5 families and DOB under "Last Inspection" states "NONE" On the same day at 7:05 Inspector 2215 (badge number)issued a "Full vacate order" his comments noted that "3 ECB violations were issued for work w/out permits, illegal conversion and 2nd means of egress." Do ya really think these inspectors know what the hell they are looking at or talking about. If you do then you're a fool. Too many fires in the last 20+ years with many people & children dying.
I hate to sound prejudicial but if you look at the names of most owners, they're all from another country. They laugh all the way to the bank because they're raking in big bucks and yet they pay the same R.E. taxes that we do. Wake up and start haranging your legislators. Check out the DOB site at and follow the prompt. It's all there for you to see.

Anonymous said...

Did you see the man interviewed who was told he can't go back to his apartment. He said that welfare inspected and paid his rent. Isn't this unbelievable????

Nothing gets done when illegal conversions are reported. People are dying and neiborhoods destroyed because of greed. What a shame. I will be leaving this city as soon as my kids in college. I can't take it anymore!

F. Sinatra said...

You won't make it here. You won't make it anywhere. So long, loser.