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Restaurant owner injured in Whitestone fire

Firefighters assist at the scene of the Whitestone blaze Saturday afternoon. Photo courtesy Devon O'Connor
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A Chinese restaurant owner, whose body had been almost entirely engulfed in flames after he ran into the parking lot from his burning Whitestone eatery Saturday, was still in critical condition at Jacobi Medical Center Wednesday, a hospital spokesman said.

Zhao Jiang suffered second-degree burns during the afternoon blaze at Emperor House Chinese restaurant, according to a spokesman for the Fire Department. His identity was confirmed through property records. A woman, who Whitestone community members identified as Jiang’s wife, had been brought in serious but stable condition to New York Hospital Queens, the spokesman said.

Cascarino’s Pizzeria worker Austin Lopez, 20, said he first heard a woman screaming, before he looked into the complex’s parking lot.

“The next thing I saw was the guy rolling on the floor completely on fire,” Lopez said. “It was his whole body from head to toe.”

Another man from inside the eatery was attempting to cover Jiang with what looked like a blanket, the pizzeria employee said.

Several seconds later, the man appeared to extinguish the flames around Jiang and Lopez ran inside to call 911, he said.

The FDNY was called to respond at 4:49 p.m. and was on scene in less than four minutes, a spokesman for the agency said. At 4:53 p.m., an ambulance was assigned to help at the shopping center, at 10th Avenue and 154th Street, and arrived at 4:59 p.m. — 10 minutes after the initial call came in — according to fire officials.

“The firefighters came really quick, but the ambulance took a little while,” Lopez said, describing how New York’s Bravest immediately tackled the building, which had been pouring black smoke.

“I saw what seemed like endless amounts of firefighters and fire trucks. The firefighters in this town are amazing,” said Devon O’Connor, founder of the Welcome to Whitestone Civic Association. “They are always first on the scene.”

Until an ambulance arrived, Jiang remained on the ground in the lot where the neighborhood’s Waldbaums is located.

“He could barely breathe. He was on the floor,” Lopez said.

Lopez said Jiang was friendly with his boss at Cascarino’s.

“The guy that got burnt, he was a good guy. He worked every day,” he said, explaining that Jiang’s 6-year-old daughter was also often at the restaurant.

O’Connor said he also spotted the female burn victim being taken on a stretcher to an ambulance.

“The girl I saw had one of her arms wrapped up and most of her hair was burned off,” he said. “She had an oxygen tank attached to her. It was hard to look at.”

Three firefighters also suffered minor injuries before the blaze was considered under control at 5:26 p.m., the FDNY spokesman said.

Hours later on Saturday, an investigation at the eatery was still going on.

“I left at 10 o’clock and they were still here,” Lopez said.

Fire marshals will determine the cause of the blaze, a spokesman for the FDNY said.

Posted 4:20 am, August 15, 2013
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Reader feedback

billy from whitestone says:
Many stated the Ambulance did not show up for 40 minutes and this poor man was burnt, you should investigate this.
Aug. 15, 2013, 9:22 am
billy from whitestone says:
Also there are rumors that Zhao Jiang did not survive, is this accurate?
Aug. 15, 2013, 9:27 am
Arthur says:
Centola, stop with the misinformation, you are wrong on all counts.
Aug. 15, 2013, 10:46 am
Arthur says:
Centola, stop with the misinformation, you are wrong on all counts.
Aug. 15, 2013, 10:46 am
billy from whitestone says:
Also there are rumors that Zhao Jiang did not survive, is this accurate?
Aug. 15, 2013, 10:48 am
billy from whitestone says:
This info was stated by actual witnesses.
Aug. 15, 2013, 10:51 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Centola, your wrong and your name is not billy
Aug. 25, 2013, 12:49 pm
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Centola, your wrong and your name is not billy
Aug. 25, 2013, 12:49 pm
Billy says:
It appears that Arthur needs to be reported this is a little unhealthy no?
Aug. 25, 2013, 2:37 pm
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Alfredo Centola aka billy from Whitestone, you know nothing, you put out misinformation and now outright lie about the response time of our dedicated emergency service professionals that risk their lives everyday. Centola you are scum.
Aug. 26, 2013, 11:25 am
Carmine says:
Arthur you are obviously suffering with a serious medical condition and should contact your dedicated emergency service professionals ASAP. Now about Mr. Centola.

Alfredo Centola is a man of great character and he is very well respected in this community. How dare you accuse him of being someone else.Why would a man like that be anything other then who he is? You are insane!! I think you wish you were him. Your nothing but a low life punk.
Aug. 26, 2013, 1:04 pm
joe says:
very well said carmine.
Aug. 27, 2013, 7:57 am
Paul says:
No one takes a bite at Arthur and his psychotic comments and thus, he resorts to name calling.

Times ledger really should do its due dillegence in monitoring this site.
Aug. 27, 2013, 9:06 am
Tim from Whitestone says:
There is no proof to his allegations and Mr. Centola a great man. Arthur your a punk
Aug. 27, 2013, 9:17 am
Tony says:
We love ya Al..Keep up the good work..Centola for City Council..Sign him in now..
Aug. 27, 2013, 9:24 am
Paul says:
@timeledger
@arthur

http://observer.com/2013/08/to-kill-an-anonymous-commenter-huffington-posts-new-system-cites-harper-lee/
Aug. 27, 2013, 4:19 pm
Ken from Whitestone says:
Centola, do you believe this crap? Can you imagine you and your anonymous friends having to sign a name? What would Christina do?
Aug. 28, 2013, 7:41 am
Carmine says:
Ha ha, very funny punk.
Aug. 28, 2013, 9:33 am
Elio says:
Oh stop it ken your not being a doll
Aug. 28, 2013, 10:20 am
Mary Anne from Malba (not Malba Gardens) says:
This story is about a very sad and tragic loss effecting a wonderful family and business that is suffering greatly. Why is it that this clown Alfredo Centola is allowed to promote his psychosis and illusions of grandeur within every Whitestone story. Someone please get this man some help.
Aug. 28, 2013, 12:14 pm
Carmine says:
Mary. Why defame someone with no proof?
Aug. 29, 2013, 11:07 am
Mary Anne from Malba (not Malba Gardens says:
The proof is in the reading, the words you write. Seek help.
Aug. 29, 2013, 2:16 pm
Carmine says:
Your a big c***.
Aug. 29, 2013, 4:46 pm
Tim from Whitestone says:
You go Alfredo.
Aug. 30, 2013, 12:48 pm
Arthur from Whitestone says:
You must be a very sad man.
Aug. 31, 2013, 9:08 am
Carmine says:
punk.
Aug. 31, 2013, 12:03 pm

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