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S. Ozone Park blaze leaves four tenants homeless

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By Scott Sieber

A spokesman for the Fire Department said the cause of the fire at 109-34 113th St. had yet to be determined and was still under investigation. The building received extensive fire, smoke and water damage. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in 30 minutes.Landlord Roger Prashad, a plumber, said his side of the building also sustained damage, but not as extensive as his neighbors. Prashad, along with his wife and sister-in-law and upstairs tenant, evacuated their homes once notified by the adjacent, upstairs neighbor.Neither tenant of the upstairs apartments could be reached for comment.By Monday afternoon, all that was left of the damaged portion of the house was a charred door propped on an outside wall and hollow windows boarded by plywood. Firefighters had returned to the scene that afternoon, but refused to comment on the previous night's events.An FDNY spokesman said return trips by fire companies to burned-out structures are routine."A lot of times, after a fire we'll go back the same day to see what could have been done," the Fire Department official said. "It's just a way for us to go over it and drill it to see if we could have done anything differently."Prashad said he woke up at 8:30 p.m. to the excited knock of his neighbor shouting that the house was aflame. Once his family and neighbors evacuated, Prashad called the Fire Department.Speaking of his immediate downstairs neighbor whose home sustained severe damage, Prashad lamented her loss."She's a very wonderful person. We get along very nice," he said.Downstairs tenant Marcus Mendez, 15, said he was in the kitchen when he first noticed the flames coming through the ceiling. He immediately grabbed his mother and 21-year-old sister and left the home through the back window."I was angry last night," he said. "I still am."Mendez's mother, who works as a teacher in Long Island City and would only identify herself as "M," said she was in her bedroom when she noticed the smoke coming from the bathroom.The Mendez family have lived at the house since the late '90s. She said her home was a complete loss."My whole house is in shambles," she said. "My main concern right now is to find shelter for my kids."Mendez said the American Red Cross offered to put the family up, but they have two dogs, one a Rotweiler/Pitbull mix named Kujo, who was not allowed to be given sanctuary. Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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