A devastating fire in Longwood has left 20 families homeless and an elderly resident fighting for her life.
According to a FDNY spokesman, on Sunday, November 27 at 8:16 p.m., a three-alarm fire was raging at 1038 Southern Boulevard, a 5-story apartment building.
Thirty-three units and 138 firefighters were dispatched to the scene.
A 20-foot collapse zone was established outside the building due to its parapet being potentially compromised.
The blaze was fought from adjacent rooms and outside tower ladders.
The FDNY repositioned a ladder truck to douse embers in the loft above a fifth floor front room ceiling collapse and had to use the water above and behind the parapet.
Firefighters ran a line to a second floor apartment which had caught fire by falling debris that entered a window, but it was quickly extinguished.
The FDNY said the fire started on the building’s fifth floor and resulted in one civilian injury.
An unconscious 85-year-old woman was discovered by firefighters in a smoke-filled hallway on the fifth floor.
The woman, who remains unidentified, was rushed to Lincoln Hospital with life-threatening injuries and is listed in critical, but stable condition.
One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene. There were no fatalities.
Firefighters gained control over the fire by 9:59 p.m.
Fire marshals have yet to determine the fire’s cause and are still investigating.
Both 1038 Southern Boulevard and neighboring 1042 Southern Boulevard sustained significant damage.
A NYC Department of Buildings spokesman stated the agency issued a full vacate order to the 18-unit 1038 Southern Boulevard and a partial vacate order on two apartment units in the 17-unit 1042 Southern Boulevard.
According to DOB, 1038 Southern Boulevard’s owner, 1038 Southern Blvd., LLC, has hired contractors to construct a sidewalk shed to protect pedestrians from falling debris.
The mixed-use buildings’ first floors house a few stores including Reunited Medical and Dental, Blueprint Sportswear, Metro Optics Eyewear and Botanica 7 Potencia.
John Bonizio, Metro Optics owner and general manager, said his store received an unbelievable amount of water damage resulting in a ceiling collapse, damaged showcases and eye glasses and waterlogged computers. Incredibly, the store’s server and patient orders were left undamaged in the aftermath.
Bonizio said Metro Optics’ Westchester Square store is servicing 1038 Southern Boulevard clients and has the impacted store’s staff working at other Metro Optics locations during this time.
He said the 1038 Southern Boulevard store will not reopen any time soon and he is currently waiting to hear from his insurance company and NYC Department of Buildings.
A Reunited Medical and Dental spokeswoman confirmed the clinic and adjacent Blueprint Sportswear are open following Sunday’s incident.
Botanica 7 Potencia remains closed as of press time. Calls to the store were not answered.
Michael de Vupillieres, American Red Cross New York Greater Region communications officer, said American Red Cross teams were on the scene providing blankets, food and other relief items to 20 displaced families.
The Red Cross registered 15 families consisting of 34 adults and 6 children for assistance.
Emergency housing was provided to four families consisting of 14 adults and one child who resided in both buildings.
On Monday, November 28, Councilman Rafael Salamanca met with city agencies to ensure the safety, security and well-being of those affected by the blaze.
Salamanca has offered his 1070 Southern Boulevard district office as a central point for displaced families to meet with the Red Cross for assistance.
The councilman said his office is also working with 1038 Southern Blvd., LLC, during this time.
“We want to let these families know that we are here to help them during this difficult time,” said Salamanca.