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New Year’s Day fire destroys Forest Hills house

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A two-alarm fire destroyed a three-story brick home in Forest Hills on New Year’s Day morning while the five-member family who live in the house were away in Aspen, Colo. on a skiing vacation.

The Fire Department was alerted about the fire at 72-16 Harrow St. at 7:45 a.m. when a neighbor called. They arrived at the scene within five minutes and began battling the blaze, which fully engulfed the house.

FDNY officials said they did not know what floor the fire started on and were still investigating the cause of the blaze in the unattached house Tuesday.

“We felt the heat coming through the walls,” said Stephen Conlon, a next-door neighbor whose 17-year-old son called the Fire Department after he was awakened by the family dog and the smell of smoke.

A spokesman for the Fire Department said 106 firefighters from 25 units battled the blaze for more than two hours before it was put under control. Nine firefighters suffered minor injuries and were taken to Jamaica Hospital, Parkway Hospital and St. John’s Hospital.

“There were at least 12 trucks there,” said Conlon. “One fireman fell from the first floor to the basement and had to be rescued.”

According to Conlon, Theodore and Randy St. Germain and their three children returned from vacation to their burned house on the evening of Jan. 1 and were staying with family in the area.

At the time of the fire, the Conlons were not sure if there was anyone in the burning house.

“My son was banging on windows, and he went up the fire escape to make sure there was no one in there,” said Conlon.

Neighbors said Theodore St. Germain works for an engineering company, and his wife is a homemaker who volunteers at PS 101, where her youngest child attends school. The St. Germains’ oldest child is in college and their middle child is in high school.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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