2003-07-11 / Front Page

Fast Moving Fire Guts Restaurant, Apartments

By Howard Schwach
Fast Moving Fire Guts Restaurant, Apartments

Fast Moving Fire Guts Restaurant, Apartments

A fire raged throughout the apartments above "Patrick's" Restaurant at Beach 112 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard Wednesday evening, destroying the apartments while putting the restaurant temporarily out of business.

According to Fire Department sources, the first call came into the 911 system at 8:50 p.m. The first engines arrived on scene at 8:52. Those units found the second and third floor of the three-story building fully involved in flame.

A number of the building's residents, including several children, were roused from the building by those who saw the flames shooting into the darkening sky.

Patrick Benn and Sean McClernan, two Rockaway youths, told The Wave that they saw the flames and rushed into the building, knocking down doors and getting people onto the street.

Benn says that he believes that the fire started on a couch in a second floor apartment.

"The couch was burning so much, it was clear that there was some sort of stuff on it that made it burn," Benn said.

Both youths reported that there was "liquid of some sort" all over the floor of the apartment.

Police Officer Daniel O'Brian of the 100 Precinct and Auxiliary Police Officer Paul Guerrero of the 101 Precinct were patrolling the area due to the massive rally that was being held only blocks away on the boardwalk. They saw the flames and rushed to the scene, kicking in doors and helping people to escape the flames and choking smoke.

Dennis Bares, an off-duty firefighter who rushed into the building as well was slightly injured and was treated at the scene by EMS.

Approximately 15 to 20 people were removed from the building.

Eyewitnesses said that the owner of the building had evicted two tenants from the building on Tuesday. They said that some youths were seen running from the building shortly before the fire broke out.

Janice Robertson, the owner of Patrick's, stood silently and watched the fire burn. She said that she has insurance, but that the restaurant might not be reopened for some time.

Robertson, however, was philosophical. "You'd better take my ad out of the paper this week," she told a Wave editor who was taking pictures.

Fire officials say that the fire was of suspicious origin and fire marshals worked the crowd watching the firefighters putting out the fire.

A second alarm was called at 8:56. In all, 25 fire units and 106 firefighters responded to the blaze.

The fire was declared under control at 11:19 p.m.

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