What to Know
- FDNY investigators say an overloaded power strip appears to have sparked then eight-alarm inferno that devoured a Queens apartment building earlier this month; the cause has been ruled accidental
- Fire officials believe the blaze started in a top floor apartment and the tenant left the door open while fleeing, allowing the flames to spread; it took hundreds of firefighters and nearly 12 hours to contain the blaze
- About 90 families were displaced by the April 6 fire, which injured at least 21 people, many of them firefighters
Fire officials say an overloaded power strip appears to have caused the eight-alarm inferno that devoured a Queens apartment building earlier this month, displacing about 90 families and leaving nearly two dozen people hurt.
Investigators said Friday they had determined the cause to be electrical and declared the devastating April 6 fire in Jackson Heights on accident.
"NEVER overload extension cords with multiple items, appliances or power strips. Remember - extension cords are for temporary use only," the FDNY cautioned.
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Despite the cord sparking the fire, it needn't have been nearly as damaging, fire officials have said. Smoke alarms were present and activated in the building at the time of the blaze, officials say. Tenants didn't call right away. One woman previously told News 4 she was confused, thinking smoke was steam from her shower.
She wasn't the only one who smelled smoke and didn't call 911 immediately, investigators have said. Ultimately, the delay in reporting caused a roughly 10-minute delay in response, which FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro previously described as an "eternity" in the realm of firefighting.
More than 100 apartments are held within the fire-damaged building on 34th Avenue between 89th and 90th streets.
Nigro has said it appears the fire started on the top floor of the building, and that the resident of the apartment where it may have started apparently left the door open while fleeing the flames. That enabled the blaze to spread rampantly, devouring home after home, officials say.
It took hundreds of firefighters and nearly 12 hours to contain it. Images from Chopper 4 showed a cloud of dark smoke billowing from the building as bystanders struggled to shield their faces from the smoke.
At least 21 people were said to have been hurt in the fire, including 16 firefighters and five civilians. No updates on their conditions were immediately provided Friday, but officials previously said all of the victims were expected to be OK.
The Red Cross was assisting the families who were displayed by the blaze. It's not clear how many have been permitted to return to their homes at this point.