In Wake of Queens Fire, Business Owners and Politicians Ask City to Keep Firehouses Open

Monday, February 15, 2010

Crews are demolishing a building destroyed in Saturday's fire in Jackson Heights, Queens. Local business owners joined elected officials at the fire's scene today, calling on the Bloomberg administration to spare fire companies from budget cuts.

Alex Chin of Kelly's Cleaners says he's open for business because firefighters responded quickly and saved his building, which is adjacent to the furniture store where the blaze is believed to have started. "If they'd closed the firehouse, like, before, it would be a bigger disaster over here," he says. "The whole block would have been gone."

Speaking at the scene this morning, Assemblyman Jose Peralta said because the quick response of firefighters on Saturday morning, no lives were lost and neighboring businesses and apartment buildings were saved. "Imagine if we wouldn't have had a fire house nearby. Imagine if it would have taken more time to get here," Peralta says. "What would have happened to these residential buildings? These are the things that we cannot afford to imagine."

The four-alarm blaze destroyed several other stores. The cause remains under investigation. The city has proposed closing 20 fire companies. A spokesman for the mayor says the Fire Department has not identified which companies would be affected.

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