News

Fire Amid Superstorm Leaves Breezy Point, Queens, A Wasteland

A firefighter works to contain a fire that destroyed over 100 homes during Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in Breezy Point, Queens. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A firefighter works to contain a fire that destroyed over 100 homes during Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in Breezy Point, Queens. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Breezy Point, Queens, was a wasteland Tuesday night, after as many as 111 homes burned down in a raging extra-alarm fire fanned by the violent gusts of Superstorm Sandy.

As CBS 2’s Drew Levinson reported, nothing but charred land was left in a large swath of the neighborhood Tuesday night in Breezy Point, a section of the Rockaway Peninsula.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

“The embers were just blowing from block to block,” one man said. “This is just total devastation.”

“It’s like a war zone,” another woman said. “The blocks where the fire was, it’s just unbelievable. I can’t describe it.”

“When I looked at all my neighbors’ houses, it looked like Hiroshima,” another neighbor added. “Everything is just devastated; leveled. I just can’t believe it.”

al jonex breezy point 3 Fire Amid Superstorm Leaves Breezy Point, Queens, A Wasteland

Breezy Point, Queens (Al Jones/1010 WINS)

A Fire Department spokesman said one firefighter suffered a minor injury and was taken to a hospital. Two civilians suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.

“We lost blocks of homes,” said Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano. “The conditions that firefighters faced when they got here last night were really some of the worst conditions you could try to fight a fire in.”

The winds of Superstorm Sandy whipped the fire to six alarms overnight. It took almost 200 firefighters to battle the blaze and the elements.

“Hurricane-force winds — they were wading up to their waists in water trying to get lines in, with low water pressure,” Cassano said. “The ground was difficult to maneuver yet they held their ground.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg compared the damage to a war zone.

“The area was completely leveled; chimneys and foundations were left of many of these homes,” Bloomberg said. “It’s very sad they lost their homes. The good news is there’s no fatalities, thank God.”

The home of U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens) was among those destroyed. He said in a statement that, along with many other Breezy Point residents, he had lost his home. He expressed gratitude that he and his family were safe after the destructive storm.

The western Rockaway Peninsula has seen more its share of scares and tragedies over the years.

On Nov. 12, 2001, just two months after the 9/11 attacks, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in the center of Belle Harbor, neighboring Breezy Point. All 260 people onboard were killed, along with five people on the ground.

And just last month, a tornado touched down in Breezy Point, sucking up water, sand and small pieces of buildings. In the storm’s wake, the community of seaside bungalows was littered with broken flower pots, knocked-down fences and smashed windows.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)