Fire marshals from the FDNY determined that most of major fires that occurred during Superstorm Sandy were sparked by sea water impacting electrical systems and components in and around these structures. Twenty-one serious fires occurred during the storm, destroying more than 200 homes and businesses across the city.
“Superstorm Sandy created challenges for the department on every level, from our fire suppression and rescue efforts that night to the painstaking investigative work that followed,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said in a prepared statement.
Breezy Point. At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, several eyewitnesses reported seeing a fire burning inside a 1-story home. FDNY units were unable to access the area due to the severe flooding conditions from the storm surge, which allowed the fire to burn for several hours. Fueled by hurricane-force winds, the fire quickly spread from home to home. By the time the fire was brought under control at about 6:30 the following morning, 126 homes had been completely destroyed and 22 additional homes were damaged.
Rockaway Beach. Fire marshals determined the fire on Rockaway Beach Boulevard started when utility wires fell onto the location, a 3-story commercial and residential structure, during the storm. The fire then extended to 16 additional structures, completely destroying all of them. FDNY units were unable to access the area for several hours due to the severe flooding conditions from the storm surge.
Also, fire marshals determined the fire on 129th Street in Queens started in the eaves of the 2-story home, where utility wires had been compromised by the storm. The fire then extended to 31 additional structures, completely destroying all of them. FDNY units were unable to access the area for several hours due to the severe flooding conditions from the storm surge.
City Island. Fire marshals determined the fire started when overhead utility wires were knocked down onto the 1-story restaurant during the storm.
In addition to the 21 serious fires that occurred during the storm, fire marshals determined that another 73 structural fires have occurred in the city that have been determined to be store-related (for a total of 94 storm-related fires). Fire marshals have determined 68 of those fires were electrical in nature; six were caused by generators, and 20 were the result of an open flame (e.g., candles, stove top, etc.).