Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 26 February 2010 00:00
An apartment house fire at 6 Wooleys Lane lit up the cold night sky as residents were displaced when flames shot through the roof of the building in the Village of Great Neck last Thursday evening, Feb. 18. No one was seriously injured, but many residents may remain without a home for quite some time.
Alert Engine Hook Ladder & Hose Co. Chief Willie Peterson reports that a resident of the Hadley Arms called in a third-floor fire at 6:49 p.m. Alert First Assistant Chief Ray Plakstis was the first to arrive, seeing smoke billowing from an apartment on the third floor. At 6:54 p.m. First Assistant Chief Plakstis called in a signal 10 working fire. Following a search, no one was found in the building, but residents were all filing out.
Firefighters and fire equipment from seven different fire companies responded to the scene, according to Chief Peterson. Chief Peterson told the Great Neck Record that a trench was cut on the roof to vent the fire and the gas and to stop the fire from spreading. The chief reported that the fire was “under control” at 8:15 p.m.
The fire was within the Alert’s fire district. The seven responding fire departments included Great Neck’s Alerts, Vigilants and Manhasset-Lakeville fire departments. Four other neighboring fire companies also responded to the scene of the fire and seven additional fire companies arrived to cover for the Great Neck fire departments.
Responding along with the fire departments were a large contingent of Nassau County police officers, county police ambulances, Nassau County Office of Emergency Management staff, Nassau County fire marshals, the American Red Cross, and local public officials including Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman, Deputy Mayor Mitchell Beckerman, Trustee Jeffrey Bass, and New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, who assisted the Red Cross and even served hot drinks and snacks from the Red Cross disaster relief wagon.
Although no one was seriously injured, Chief Peterson reported that two firefighters were treated for minor injuries and one elderly resident was taken to the hospital “for a non-fire related cause.”
Thanks to the Red Cross, residents evacuated from the fire-damaged building, plus residents also evacuated from the attached 8 Wooleys Lane building, were temporarily situated in MTA buses, until they either found shelter with friends or were helped to housing by the Red Cross. Early on, LIPA and National Grid were called to shut off electric power and gas to the two buildings involved. Power and gas were restored to the undamaged building at 8 Wooleys Lane the next evening and residents were allowed to return to their homes. At press time, residents of 6 Wooleys Lane were still precluded from returning to their homes.
Mayor Kreitzman praised the firefighters for their “terrific work and their ability to limit damage, even water damage, to the building.” The mayor reported that the Nassau County fire marshal required that power not be restored to 8 Wooleys Lane until the next evening. However, after early Friday morning inspections of the buildings by the mayor, Village Building Superintendent Norman Nemec and building department staff member John Post, residents of both buildings were allowed in to their apartments to retrieve possessions. However, the residents of the fire-damaged building had to be escorted; Alert firefighters helped in that effort.
Chief Peterson told the Record that the fire was “probably caused by an electric fire in the bathroom ceiling” of a third-floor apartment. Nassau County’s Arson/Bomb Squad agreed, further reported that the fire “is not considered suspicious and appears to be electrical in nature.”