2009-05-01 / Community

Six Alarm Fire On Neilson Street

DOB: Building Stable, But Off Limits For Now
By Miriam Rosenberg

With the temperature hovering around 30 degrees and winds blowing at more than 20 mph, residents of an apartment building on Neilson Street in Far Rockaway fled into the night stopping to watch as their home was destroyed by fire last Saturday night.

The six-alarm fire at 1056 Neilson Street left 129 families, including 46 children homeless. The families have no knowledge of when, or even if, they would be able to return to the six-floor apartment house.

Christine McMillon and her daughters Shanise, (3), and Katie, (1), lived in apartment 6H, above the apartment where many believe the fire started. They were among those who required rescue by firefighters.

"About midnight I saw smoke…I waited [for firefighters] to come to rescue me and my daughters," she said. "We tried to huddle to the floor. I stuck my head out the window to try to compose myself. No one was supposed to be in that apartment [below].

"It took 15 minutes to get out. Any longer and we'd be dead. Afterwards they told us to get checked out in an ambulance, and we went to St. John's. I was in my bathrobe."

The fire was made even more difficult throughout the night by decreasing temperatures and increasing wind gusts between 25 and 33 mph.

Deputy Chief Bob Maynes explained how the weather affected his firefighters, such as Lt. Steven Sharpe, who helped rescue the McMillons.

- Excerpted from The Wave 2-9-07

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