Contractor Charged With Arson In Queens Fire That Damaged 112 Apartments

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A contractor was charged with arson Wednesday in connection to an extra-alarm fire that left dozens of families homeless in Elmhurst, Queens.

Declan McElhatton, 53, of Yonkers-based Maintenance Asset Management, was also charged with reckless endangerment in the fire, which broke out Tuesday evening on the top floor of the building at 56-11 94th St., between 56th and 57th avenues.

McElhatton was arrested by FDNY fire marshals on Wednesday, the department said. The FDNY had no further details, but said McElhatton was doing work on the building.

A total of 11 firefighters were treated for injuries fighting the blaze, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported Tuesday. An elderly woman was also wheeled away from the scene.

One resident says he was home in a top floor apartment when the fire began.

“I was home, I just got home from work and a neighbor told me, knocked on my door and told me they see smoke,” he said Tuesday. “Right away I grabbed a couple of stuff and I walked outside.”

The FDNY said there was extensive damage to 112 apartment units in total.

The American Red Cross of Greater New York said it had multiple teams on scene meeting with affected residents at a nearby reception center at PS 13Q, providing food, beverages, health assistance, and emotional support.

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