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The gas explosion that killed a Flushing man, severely injured his 2−year−old daughter and displaced several residents at Fairmont Hall on Sanford Avenue in July has been turned over to the Queens district attorney’s office as a criminal investigation, City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing) said this week.
It has been four months since an explosion tore through the Fairmont Hall apartment complex at 147−25 Sanford Ave., but an Fire Department investigation into the cause of the blast still has not been made public.
Edgar Zaldumbide, who received second− and third−degree burns over 75 percent of his body in the explosion, died of his injuries last month. His daughter, also severely injured in the blast, is expected to make a full recovery.
Liu said that since Zaldumbide died, the FDNY has concluded its investigation and has turned the evidence over to the Queens DA’s office, which is now investigating the explosion and his death as a criminal matter.
“It suggests that this fire and the explosion were far worse than we’ve already thought,” Liu said.
A spokesman at the DA’s office said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation and no criminal charges have formally been filed in the case.
Liu said he continues to meet with tenants at Fairmont Hall on a regular basis, offering assistance in finding new apartments and tracking down belongings lost following the explosion.
“Management could be more helpful,” said Liu, who has been critical of the building’s ownership. “It seems they’re just climbing into a hole.”
Zaldumbide’s death was the latest chapter in six months of hardships experienced by the building’s residents.
The problems at Fairmont Hall began June 11 after a small kitchen fire in a second−floor apartment damaged gas lines in the building. Con Edison spokesman Chris Olert said gas and hot water were shut down at the building after the fire while repairs were made.
Residents were without hot water until June 24 and without gas until October, according to Con Edison and city Department of Buildings records, leading a group of tenants to threaten a rent strike in early July until the repairs were made.
Although gas is slowly being restored to the building, several building residents have not had service since the June 18 fire. Some tenants in the building’s 90 apartments have stopped paying rent and retained the services of a law firm, Bernstein & Bernstein, to potentially seek damages for the building’s poor living conditions.
A phone number for David Pace, the Fairmont Hall business manager, has been disconnected.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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