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A woman was critically injured earlier this month when fire gutted a home on the border of Flushing and Whitestone that may have housed an illegal apartment.
The FDNY received a call around 11 p.m. Nov. 3 about a fire in a two-family home on Willets Point Boulevard near 146th Street. The blaze went to two alarms, and it took a team of some 100 of the city’s Bravest about an hour and a half to extinguish the flames that engulfed the two-story walk-up, according to the FDNY.
One woman was critically injured in the inferno, the FDNY said. She was listed as a patient at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, though her current condition was not known as of press time.
Fire marshals were investigating the scene to determine the cause of the blaze, according to the FDNY. But a quick glance at the building shows that the wall was blackened by char marks and the siding had been melted away. Like permanent shadows, black smoke marks were visible on the outside of the house just above the basement windows.
According to the city Department of Buildings, someone filed two complaints about the property Nov. 30, 2011.
The first complaint said the owner of the house illegally added an additional apartment to the basement of the dwelling.
The house is listed in the city’s database as a two-family home, and two front doors open onto the front porch. One door leads to the ground-floor family dwelling and the other leads to the second-floor dwelling. But a basement door near the garage also had its own doorbell.
A certificate of occupancy, a document which stipulates the legal use of a building, was not immediately available for the charred house.
But the certificate of occupancy for a nearly identical house down the street lists the permissible use for the first and second floors as family dwellings. The only things permitted in the basement is storage, a boiler room and a two-car garage.
The second complaint from November 2011 on file with Buildings said there was defective or exposed wiring on the second floor of the building. The complainant said the fuses would blow out when multiple appliances were used in the apartment.
Department inspectors went out to the house twice, but could not gain access to the buildings so a violation was never issued and no action taken.
The owner of the house is listed as David Dursunyan, according to city documents. He could not be reached as of press time, but his son did not want to comment aside from confirming his father was not injured.
It was unclear whether the house had an illegal apartment in the basement, but in general they pose a significant problem in Queens, according to Borough President Helen Marshall.
“Illegal conversions are frequently done in violation of existing fire and building codes, and constitute a significant danger to tenants and other individuals living in the buildings,” she said on her website. “In addition, fires that begin in homes with illegal apartments can easily spread to neighboring homes.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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