Still no cause for 11−home fire

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Vacated signs adorn the front doors of the 11 homes damaged by the five−alarm fire that ripped through a Woodhaven block two weeks ago as fire officials still investigate the cause of the massive blaze.

Maria Thomson, the president of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and the 102nd Precinct Community Council, said neighborhood groups are waiting to hear back from the Red Cross and Catholic Charities as to how residents can help the victims.

“We reached out to the Red Cross to find out what we could do as a community,” she said, which may include setting up a fund.

Thomson said the residents of the 11 homes are living with relatives.

Meanwhile, Thomson said two cats that lived in one of the homes on 96th Street by 91st Avenue are missing.

“We’re trying to make sure people are aware of the cats and find them because [the victims] lost enough,” she said. “We’re asking people to put out tuna fish and cat food so they can eat.”

She said the cats answer to “Larry” and “Moe.” One is a striped white and yellow cat and the other is a bengal with gray and black stripes.

The Woodhaven American Legion Post on Jamaica Avenue and the Forest Park Senior Center are also planning to hold donation drives to help the homeowners, according to one neighbor, but the organizations are having difficulty reaching those affected because they have been forced out of their houses.

Virginia McCabe, 85, a resident of 96th Street by 91st Avenue, said she took in some of her neighbors on the day of the Feb. 12 fire. The neighbors have since been staying at their daughter’s home in Syosset, L.I., she said.

“It’s so sad looking at those houses now,” McCabe said. “That day was terrible.”

The houses have been boarded up and a 102nd Precinct car has been on the block to make sure the 11 homes are not broken into. Vacated notices are affixed to the doors.

McCabe said one of her neighbors recently finished a $40,000 renovation of his home that was damaged in the blaze.

“Thank God he had a rider on his [insurance] policy,” she said.

There were no deaths from the fire despite the vast damage inflicted. Two civilians and two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Fire officials said they were still determining the cause of the blaze and where in one of the 11 homes the fire originated.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 6:36 pm, October 10, 2011
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