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A dead man found on the Laurelton block that went up in flames Monday afternoon did not perish as a result of the three-alarm blaze, but the fire did damage five homes, the authorities said.
The unidentified man was found while firefighters were evacuating Mentone Avenue as they were battling the fire that erupted around 4:30 p.m., the FDNY said. The man was believed to have died of natural causes and had been decomposing for many days, according to the police.
Aside from the corpse’s discovery, 14 firefighters, who were part of the 33 units that responded to the scene, were hurt fighting the blaze. Five suffered minor burns to their faces and ears, according to the FDNY.
Jim White, who lives a few blocks away from the scene, watched as the firefighters fought the fire that spread to five homes.
“It was shooting out from the window. The flames were really high,” the 58-year-old man said. “The heat was really intense.”
The blaze started in the cockloft of one of the one-family homes, at 225-08 Mentone Ave., and spread to the adjacent properties to its left and right, firefighters said. High winds made the flames jump over to two more homes quickly, according to the FDNY.
It took crews nearly two hours to put out the fire, which took place just a block from the Laurelton Long Island Rail Road station, the FDNY said.
No residents were hurt during the incident, according to the FDNY.
Karina Baez, 25, was one of the residents who escaped harm during the fire. She said she immediately smelled the smoke and was able to get her 3-year-old child, grandfather and husband out.
“I came out lucky,” Baez said.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of press time Tuesday. Firefighters spent most of the night going through the damage and even brought out special searchlights to help with their investigation.
“I’ve never seen so many fire engines lined up here like that,” resident Leroy Skeete said as he watched the firefighters do their excavation.
The three homes that burned when the fire started were totally wrecked by the flames, while the outer two buildings had smoke and water damage only, the FDNY said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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