Fire hits Jamaica scrap yard

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Photo gallery

Torched vehicles are stacked in the back of Liberty Scrap Metal in South Jamaica, where firefighters battled a five-alarm blaze Monday. Photo by Christina Santucci
The smoke could be seen blocks away from the blaze. Photo by Christina Santucci
Burnt cars are stacked on the property. Photo by Christina Santucci
Vaughn Ramkissoon stands in front of the scrapyard. Ramkissoon owns a Tri-state New and Used Auto Glass on the same property as Liberty for the past eight years. Photo by Christina Santucci
About 200 firefighters were called to the scene. Photo by Christina Santucci
Firefighters use a tower ladder at the South Jamaica scrapyard fire. Photo by Christina Santucci
Firefighters check for remaining pockets of fire at Liberty Scrap Metal in South Jamaica as they worked to put out a five-alarm blaze in a scrapyard, which city records say is owned by Victoria Gotti's group. Photo by Christina Santucci

A day after a five-alarm blaze burned for hours at a South Jamaica scrap yard owned by Victoria Gotti’s Three Sons Real Estate Group, the shop was back in business.

On Tuesday, workers used a forklift to haul some of the torched vehicles, which had been damaged in the massive fire at Liberty Scrap Metal, at 95-49 Tuckerton St., the day before.

Vaughn Ramkissoon, who has owned Tri-state New and Used Auto Glass on the same property as Liberty for the past eight years, said employees stayed late until 11 p.m. to stack between 150 and 200 torched cars in the corner of the lot so the business could reopen.

Ramkissoon believes a car battery was the source of the fire Monday morning.

Records with the City Register show the property is owned by the Three Sons Real Estate Group. The company shares an address that several websites identify as the Westbury, L.I.,, home of Victoria Gotti, daughter of the late Gambino family mob boss John Gotti.

But workers at several other auto shops say it is Victoria Gotti’s son, Frank Agnello, who is the most visible face in the neighborhood and runs the South Jamaica scrap yard. The business was formerly called A&J Scrap Metal but changed its name about two months ago, Ramkissoon said.

Gotti and her three sons — Carmine Jr., Frank and John — starred in the reality show “Growing Up Gotti” from 2004-05. The Dapper Don’s daughter was rumored to have visited the area Monday, but workers varied in their accounts of the sightings.

A spokesman for the city Fire Department said a call reporting the blaze came in at about 9 a.m., but it took until about 1:15 p.m. before the fire was considered under control.

Thick white smoke could be seen as far away as 150th Street and Liberty Avenue at about 10:30 a.m.

One worker described the flames as between two and three stories high, reaching to almost the height of the storage facility next door.

“It was just horrific. The flames were out of control,” said Liberty employee James Gray, who said he arrived at the scene after the fire had already started. “It was a lot of flames, a lot of black smoke.”

Workers from Liberty Scrap Metal and other surrounding businesses said they heard several explosions.

“It was a huge fire and cars were going boom, boom, boom, popping,” said Victor Rivera, who does auto work at Guardian Gates, across the street from Liberty.

In total, 44 units with about 200 firefighters were brought in to battle the blaze, fire officials said. The spokesman for the FDNY said three people had sustained minor injuries — two police officers and one firefighter — and the cause of the fire was under investigation as of Monday.

Kirk Young, the owner of K&W Auto Radiator several blocks away, said Liberty Avenue was closed to cars and trucks until about 5 p.m.

“Traffic was rerouted all around,” he said.

On Tuesday, a strong smell of smoke remained.

“We don’t get much action around here,” Young added.

Rich Bockmann contributed to this story.

Posted 8:07 pm, December 19, 2012
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