Roofers Caused Raging L.I. Blaze That Destroyed Homes, Businesses: Officials

By Greg Cergol and Andrew Siff
|  Friday, Mar 15, 2013  |  Updated 10:51 AM EDT
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A huge fire ripped through a nearly 100-year-old building on Long Island. Dozens of families are now homeless and several stores are out of business. Andrew Siff reports.

A huge fire ripped through a nearly 100-year-old building on Long Island. Dozens of families are now homeless and several stores are out of business. Andrew Siff reports.

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Roofing contractors using a propane torch ignited the five-alarm fire on Long Island that raged for more than 12 hours, displacing more than a dozen residents and reducing a building to piles of rubble and ash, investigators said Friday.

Detectives said the blaze started in the walls of the mixed-use three-story building on Herbert Avenue in Port Washington Thursday afternoon and quickly spread to the roof.

Thick black smoke enveloped the neighborhood; residents and firefighters used scarves and towels to protect themselves from the smoke, and authorities shut down a multiple-block stretch of the town.

About 150 firefighters from six companies responded and battled hotspots into the pre-dawn hours Friday. One Port Washington firefighter was treated for an ankle injury at a local hospital, but no one else was hurt.

The building, which has three storefronts and 11 apartments, is about 100 years old. It suffered extensive damage in the fire, and 20 people were displaced. The Red Cross is assisting families who lost homes.

One Port Washington firefighter was treated for an ankle injury at a local hospital, but no one else was hurt. 

The Long Island Power Authority cut power to the area surrounding the building for a time, though the nearby LIRR was not affected. 

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