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FDNY: Sea Water Flooding Electrical Units Caused Breezy Point Inferno The Day Sandy Hit

Nearly 100 Fires Have Been Determined To Be Superstorm Sandy-Related
The remains of the Breezy Point neighborhood following a fire that broke out during Sunday as seen from Chopper 880 - Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Tom Kaminski / WCBS 880)

The remains of the Breezy Point neighborhood following a fire that broke out during Sunday as seen from Chopper 880 – Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Fire officials have determined the cause of the massive fire that destroyed 126 homes in Breezy Point on the night superstorm Sandy hit.

The six-alarm fire in the Queens community on the Rockaway peninsula was started when rising sea water inundated the electrical system of a home on Ocean Avenue, according to the Fire Marshals.

“[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,” said FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano in a news release. “A total of 21 serious fires occurred during the storm, destroying more than 200 homes and businesses across the city, and Fire Marshals have determined that most were sparked by sea water impacting electrical systems and components in and around these structures.”

The massive Breezy Point blaze broke out around 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29, right as Sandy and the ensuing storm surge made their impacts felt in New York City.

Fire crews were unable to reach the area due to severe flooding. That allowed the fire to burn for several hours, and the flames were fanned by hurricane-strength winds, according to the FDNY.

The blaze was finally brought under control around 6:30 the following morning, after 126 homes were reduced to charred piles of rubble. And additional 22 homes were damaged in Breezy Point.

Two fires in the Rockaways that destroyed a combined 49 homes were sparked by downed power lines, the Fire Marshals determined.

It took FDNY crews hours to reach the fires amid the widespread flooding, officials said.

A three-alarm fire on City Island was sparked when utility lines fell on a business during the storm, according to the Fire Marshals.

In addition to the 21 serious fires that occurred during the storm, Fire Marshals determined that another 73 structural fires in the city were determined to be storm-related. 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 like candles or a stove top.

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