Elderly man described as “nicest guy” dies in Queens housefire

An elderly victim described by neighbors as “the nicest guy” died in a Queens house fire early Sunday morning after more than 100 firefighters took two hours to extinguish the flames, officials said.

The 82-year-old man, who has not been identified, perished in the three-alarm blaze that sparked out of control at the two-story home at 218-01 36th Ave in Bayside at about 5:40 a.m., according to fire officials.

“When the fellas pulled up, it was fully involved,” FDNY Battalion Chief Brian Deery said at a morning press conference.

The elderly man was the only person in the house, Deery said.

Firefighters found him severe burns in the back of the home on the second floor, authorities said. Emergency medical workers pronounced him dead at the scene.

The quiet suburban neighborhood still smelled of smoke and ash Sunday afternoon. Homes on both sides of the blackened husk of a house showed signs of the conflagration, including melted siding and blown-out glass windows.

Neighbors told The Post that the victim was a friendly, helpful older Italian man who belonged to the local Knights of Columbus and St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church in Bayside.

It took nearly 100 firefighters almost two hours to knock down the three-alarm fire in Queens.
Seth Gottfried

Firefighters hold a hose as they put water on the fire.
An 82-year-old man died in the blaze, authorities said.
Seth Gottfried

He handed out cards and money at the church’s Bingo nights and knew everybody in the neighborhood, according to one of his neighbors, a woman named Liz.

“He was a wonderful guy,” Liz told The Post. “It’s a shame to die this way, and to die alone too … He never talked about anybody, he’d do anything for anyone.”

“I never saw anything like it this morning,” said another neighbor, who has lived across the street from the victim for more than two decades. “Flames just engulfed the house.”

Firefighters gather outside the home, which is still steaming.
Neighbors described the elderly victim as a “wonderful guy.”
Seth Gottfried

Firefighters in a cherry picker trying to knock down the three-alarm blaze.
Homes on both sides suffered damage, firefighters said.
Seth Gottfried

Deery said firefighters struggled to work inside the home because of the darkness, the thick black smoke and a severe amount of clutter.

“You’re going in and you really can’t see anything and you have clutter … you’re searching and you’re bouncing into things,” Deery said. “It’s hard to maneuver … so it kind of delays the search.”

But Deery added that the mess did not stop firefighters from reaching the victim promptly.

Fire officials are still investigating the fire’s cause, the chief said.

An FDNY truck at the scene.
The three-alarm fire in Bayside was extinguished at about 7:20 a.m.
Seth Gottfried

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