Many Guyanese affected in Richmond Hill, NY fire

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A fast-moving inferno tore through a row of buildings in Queens, New York late Saturday, destroying at least eight homes and leaving dozens of people homeless.

Fire officials say a 7-alarm fire that ripped through a series of buildings in Queens is now under control. It started around 11 p.m. Saturday at a mixed-use building on Liberty Avenue between 110 and 111th street in Richmond Hill where a number of Guyanese reside. The flames spread to at least five other buildings. It was brought under control around just after 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Fire officials say five people, including three firefighters, were hurt. One person was sent to the hospital.

(Following is a report from the New York Daily News)

Firefighters use risky technique to save man trapped in Brooklyn building

Three firefighters used a dangerous rescue technique — being lowered from the roof by rope — to save a man trapped in a burning Brooklyn building Sunday morning.

“Those guys, they got me out of the building,” said Ubeaka McKinney, 39, of the daring save on the third floor of 241 Rockaway Ave. in Brownsville at 7:30 a.m.

“I was hanging out of the window and they came down from the roof on a rope,” he added.`McKinney made sure his 88-year-old grandmother, who lives with him in the apartment, got out. But he got stuck inside and began to yell for help.

That’s when Firefighter Andrew Scharf, from Ladder Co. 176, was lowered from the roof by Firefighter Todd Brenner of Ladder 120.

A fire tore through a row of buildings in Queens late Saturday, destroying at least eight homes. (Alex Rud/For New York Daily News)

“I had to reassure (McKinney) just to hold on to me and he’d be down quick,” Scharf said. “He was very thankful and very happy.”

“This is something that we practice all the time but very rarely have a chance to do,” Scharf added.

When he got to the window, McKinney was panicked, and reached for his rescuer’s foot.

“He was nervous and disoriented,” Scharf recalled. “We are trained for that situation. You just try to calm them down.”

At another major fire in Jamaica, Queens, a stranded firefighter also used a rope to lower himself down from a second floor.

The seven-alarm fire started just before 11 p.m. Saturday in a store on the first floor of a row of two-story buildings on Liberty Ave. near 111th St. in Richmond Hill, the FDNY said.

“I was searching the rear bedroom when the fire flashed over me,” recalled Firefighter Charles Flohr of Ladder Co. 143. “I had about 10 seconds to put it on and get out the window.”

More than 200 firefighters responded to battle the blaze, which quickly spread from the store to a dozen second-floor apartments, officials said.

The Red Cross was on the sceneand provided eight families — with 23 adults and eight children — with emergency financial assistance, food, clothing and blankets, a spokeswoman said.

“It’s a shame they lost their houses, lost the buildings,” FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard said. “But if we don’t have loss of life, that’s the most important thing.”

Displaced residents gather in a restaurant across from the scene. (Marc A. Hermann for New York Daily News)

One of the residents, Domattie Singh, 25, was getting dressed when the fire broke out.

“It was coming out really heavy,” she said, referring to the smoke.

The fire burned a large portion of the back of the apartment, she said. Singh and the rest of her family have moved in with a relative.

Extreme temperatures and strong winds contributed to the rapid spread of the fire through the row of 13 buildings, according to Leonard.

“You can feel the wind right now, it’s very cold, very windy, and that definitely contributed to the spread of the fire,” he said.

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