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Volunteers aim to rebuild after Queens Village fire

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More than two weeks after fire destroyed the Queens Village Hollis Bellerose Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the organization has found a temporary home in the facilities of a sister company and is back in operation, the president said.

The move follows the completion of an investigation by the Fire Department, which said the blaze was accidental and probably caused by a cigarette.

Barbara Brown Lax, the corps' president, said it is currently working out of the Jamaica Estates Holliswood South Bayside Volunteer Ambulance Corps at Union Turnpike and 208th Street. She added that her corps is operating at full capacity, although office space is a bit cramped.

While she was grateful for the generosity extended by her colleagues in Jamaica Estates, she indicated that the arrangement was strictly a short-term one.

"Not that we don't appreciate what Jamaica Estates is doing," she said. "It's just that there's no place like home."

Home, the original building at 235-01 Braddock Ave. in Queens Village, will be rebuilt as soon as possible, Lax said. In the meantime, she has begun a search for a contractor and for a reasonably priced facility to rent until the work is completed.

Lax also expressed surprise at the Fire Department's findings, particularly the contention that a cigarette may have been the cause of the blaze.

"Nobody was there at the time," she said.

The building sustained heavy interior damage when fire broke out Feb. 21 shortly after 3 p.m. Two off-duty volunteers eating lunch across the street alerted the Fire Department when they saw smoke.

Other than a firefighter who strained a back muscle, there were no injuries reported, the department said. Lax estimated the damage sustained to the building at $500,000.

Donations can be sent to: Queens Village Hollis Bellerose Volunteer Ambulance Corps, P.O. Box 28003, Queens Village, NY 11428. Checks should be made payable to QVHB Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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