Today’s news:

City begins cleanup of Flushing store fire

The cleanup of three buildings demolished after they were gutted by a two−alarm fire last month began last week as fire investigators worked to find the cause of the blaze.

The Flushing Business Improvement District said the sites of 136−11, 136−13 and 136−15 Roosevelt Ave. — which underwent emergency demolitions following an Oct. 29 fire — would be cleared over the next week. Flushing BID Executive Director Mabel Law said the process was expected to be completed during the overnight hours and will be completed by Nov. 21.

“We want to thank all the city agencies involved, especially the Department of Small Business Services, the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for working with all the owners to coordinate the debris cleanup and recovery efforts,” Law said. “It is important that all affected parties are informed of each stage of this process and we commend the city agencies for keeping us abreast every step of the way.

According to 109th Precinct Commanding Officer Matthew Whelan, initially the owners of the three buildings could not be located, which caused delays in the cleanup. Whelan said the 109th Precinct is collaborating with fire officials in investigating the cause of the fire, which has been deemed suspicious, but the investigation is ongoing.

More than a half−dozen businesses were destroyed or sustained serious fire and water damage as a result of the fire, which started shortly after 2:30 a.m. Oct. 29.

Two salons, a psychic reader’s office, a Payless Shoe Source, a Taco Bell, a Pizza Hut and an apartment were destroyed in the blaze. Hoses used to put out the fire briefly flooded the nearby No. 7 subway station with water, although the station sustained no serious damage.

“In the future, we hope that every property owner and commercial tenant knows what to do in an emergency,” said Peter Tu, director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association. “Building owners especially should know who all their tenants are and how they can be contacted. Good communication is essential in ensuring that our businesses are properly protected and given the assistance necessary to recover.”

Last week officials from the city Department of Small Business Services, Queens Business Solutions Center, city Office of Emergency Management, city Department of Environmental Protection, city Department of Buildings, city Department of Housing, NYPD, city Department of Health and mayor’s Community Affairs Unit provided information about grants and individualized counseling to business owners affected by the blaze.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, ext. 138.

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