Declan Mcelhatton was arrested because his carelessness caused 5-alarm fire in Queens, NY on Tuesday
Fire marshals in New York arrested a contractor, Declan Mcelhatton of Maintenance Asset Management in Yonkers on today in connection with a Queens apartment complex fire. The marshals said 53-year-old Mcelhatton used a torch to start a massive fire that tore through a Queens apartment building and seriously injured two firefighters, officials said Thursday.
McElhatton from Yonkers, is facing arson charges for allegedly starting the blaze on 94th St. near 57th St. in Elmhurst about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The marshals determined he “recklessly damaged the property and intentionally started the fire with the illegal use of a torch,” police sources said.
The cause of the fire was an open flame in close proximity to combustibles.
Mcelhatton is set to be charged with arson and reckless endangerment.
The blaze quickly spread through the building’s cockloft between the upper ceiling and the roof, officials said. Although the marshalls were able to save 60 units, all 112 apartments were evacuated.
The fire was brought under control in about four hours. More than 200 firefighters responded to the five-alarm fire, which injured 11 firefighters, two of them seriously, on Tuesday night. The two firefighters were taken to local hospitals with serious but non-life threatening injuries. No civilian injuries were reported.
Firefighters managed to save half of the apartments, leaving 67 families displaced.
Fifteen of the displaced families needed emergency housing and had to spend the night at a nearby public school, according to the Red Cross, which rendered aid to 144 adults and 31 children.
McElhatton was arrested late Wednesday, officials said. His arraignment was pending Thursday.