NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Three men were killed when flames tore through an abandoned home overnight in Queens.
Police sources told CBS2 the cause is believed to be suspicious.
Firefighters were called shortly after midnight to Farmers Boulevard near 111th Avenue in the St. Albans section.
When crews arrived, they found the men – believed to be squatters – already dead inside the house.
Four of the 200 firefighters who responded were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Neighbors said they’ve seen people going in and out for warmth for a while.
“They don’t’ want to go to a shelter or whatever. They chose an abandoned home,” said neighbor Linda Wong. “It’s a human being, you know. You don’t got to die like that… I’m distraught. I’m just praying for them. You know, it’s sad, it’s terrible.”
“There’s been numerous people that sit there, wait for the bus, or they eat there,” another neighbor added.
Department of Buildings’ records show 13 complaints at the address from 2008 to 2017 – first, claiming the basement and garage had been illegally converted into apartments, then more recently, several complaints about squatters.
Documents say the FDNY ordered the home to be boarded up a few years ago, but it’s unclear if that ever happened.