The island community of Breezy Point was destroyed by fire last night as Hurricane Sandy pounded the New York City shore. The Queens community is at the tip of the resort area known as the “Rockaways” and is accessible two bridges and connected to Long Island just south of JFK airport.
The first calls about a fire seem to have come in to 911 about 11 pm on October 29, Monday night. Hurricane Sandy was pummeling the area with high winds and storm surge, making it difficult for firefighters to reach the area and to fight the fire.
By 3:30 am, fire officials had sounded a sixth alarm. About 190 firefighters were involved in the fight. Reuters quotes Mayor Bloomberg as saying that 80 homes were lost. WABC reports this dramatic rescue of 25 trapped by fire and flood:
Firefighters said the water was chest high on the street, and they had to use a boat to make rescues. They said in one apartment home, about 25 people were trapped in an upstairs unit, and the 2-story home next door was ablaze and setting fire to the apartment’s roof. Firefighters climbed an awning to access the trapped people, and took them downstairs to the boat in the street.
Video footage of the scene shows a hellish swath of tightly packed homes fully engulfed in orange flames as firefighters hauled hoses while sloshing in ankle-high water. Many homes appeared completely flattened by the wind-whipped flames.
A separate fire burned through a string of homes on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 115th Street in Rockaway Park. A third fire damaged a church on Beach 129th Street in Belle Harbor.
Reports are that Congressman Bob Turner’s home was destroyed in the fire. Turner is the Republican who was elected to Congress in the wake of the Weiner sex scandal.