Five-Alarm Fire at Bronx Supermarket

One Dead, Several Others Injured in New York Bus Rollover

Multiple companies responded to crash on I-87 north of Albany
MICHAEL VIRTANEN, Associated Press Published Friday, July 18, 2014

NORTH HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) — A Canadian tour bus carrying 56 people rolled over Friday in upstate New York, killing one person and injuring others, police said.

The bus traveling from Quebec City to New York City for a three-day tour rolled over at about 7:30 a.m. on Interstate 87, also known as the Adirondack Northway, according to Josiane Grimard of JaimonVoyage.com, the tour operator.

State police said several people were being treated at hospitals for mostly minor injuries. One person was airlifted from the scene.

Grimard had no word on the cause. She said the vehicle used for the tour was owned by a subcontractor, Fleur de Lys. The subcontractor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Multiple local rescue squads responded to the scene 90 miles north of Albany, where the bus was on its side in the median.

Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that several people trapped inside the bus had to be removed by emergency personnel.

"I'm sure a lot of them crawled through the top hatches because the bus was on its side," he said.

Jaquish said the bus was filled with college-age students and their relatives. Grimard said it was not a college-sponsored tour.

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Investigators look over the scene of a bus accident on Interstate 87, also known as the Adirondack Northway, in North Hudson, N.Y. on Friday July 18, 2014. Officials say a Canadian tour bus carrying more than 50 people rolled over, killing one and injuring others. The tour operator says the bus was traveling from Quebec City to New York City. Josiane Grimard of JaimonVoyage.com says the bus crashed at 7:30 a.m. She had no word on the cause. She said the vehicle was owned by a subcontractor. (AP Photo/John DiGiacomo)
A Canadian tour bus carrying 54 people from Quebec City to New York City rests on its side after rolling over on the Northway in the Adirondacks in Essex County, N.Y., Friday, July 18, 2014. New York state police spokeswoman Darcy Wells had no word on possible injuries or deaths. (AP Photo/Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Catherine Moore)


Popular FDNY Charity Calendar No Longer All-Male

11-year veteran was discouraged from trying out because of her gender
Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The FDNY calendar has a new look.

For the first time, a female firefighter appears in the famed charity calendar of hard bodies.

Danae Mines (duh-NAY'-uh MYNZ) of Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx is Miss March. She signed calendars in Times Square on Tuesday.

The 11-year veteran booked the part after attending an open call for firefighters last year. She says she was discouraged from trying out at first because of her gender.

Mines is one of only 41 female firefighters in the department.

The Calendar of Heroes celebrates the 150th anniversary of the fire department and features pictures of attractive firefighters for every month of the year. It went on sale Tuesday for $15.95. Proceeds go to the FDNY Foundation, which promotes fire safety education.

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In a photo provided by the New York City Fire Department, firefighter Danae Mines autographs a copy of the 2015 Calendar of Heroes, which features her as Miss March, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in New York's Times Square. Mines, of Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx, is an 11-year veteran, one of only 41 female firefighters in the department, and the first female firefighter to appear in the famed charity calendar of hard bodies. (AP Photo/FDNY)

Fire Destroys Restaurant Owned by New York Terror Suspect

Blaze destroys Rochester restaurant owned by suspect who plotted to kill troops
Published Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A fire has destroyed a New York restaurant owned by a man charged last month with plotting vengeance attacks against members of the U.S. military and the Muslim community.

Local media report that firefighters responded late Sunday night to a report of a fire at the former Mojoes Restaurant in Rochester.

Firefighters had to break down the boarded-up door of the building to get inside. Officials say the restaurant's interior was destroyed.

In June, the restaurant's 30-year-old owner, Mufid Elfgeeh, was arrested after federal prosecutors said he bought two unregistered guns from an FBI informant. Investigators say he plotted to kill returning U.S. troops for American actions overseas and Shiite Muslims over the civil war in Syria.

Elfgeeh, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen, is being held in Monroe County Jail.

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In this July 13, 2014 photo, firefighters check for hot spots in the vacant apartment above the former MoJoe's eatery on North Clinton Avenue, in Rochester, N.Y. The restaurant is owned by Mufid Elfgeeh, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen who was charged last month with plotting vengeance attacks against members of the U.S. military and the Muslim community. (AP Photo/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, John Spaulding)

Six Burned in Fire Inside NYC Rockefeller Plaza Observation Deck

Embers from burning camera equipment fall onto victims below
Published Monday, July 14, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City fire officials say six people, including a child, suffered slight burns when a piece of camera equipment caught fire inside the observation deck of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

A fire department spokesman says the fire started just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday and was under control about a half hour later. He says the injuries were caused by embers from the fire falling onto the victims.

Five adults at the scene refused medical attention and the child, whose age was not immediately known, was taken to a nearby hospital. No word on what caused the fire.

The 70-story, Art Deco-style GE Building opened in 1933. It is the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan and home to the NBC television network.

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This photo provided by Nico Rodriguez shows a firetruck near the observation deck of 30 Rockefeller Plaza after a piece of camera equipment caught on fire in New York, Sunday, July 13, 2014. New York City fire officials say six people, including a child, suffered slight burns. A fire department spokesman says the fire started just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday and was under control about a half hour later. He says the injuries were caused by embers from the fire falling onto the victims. (AP Photo/Nico Rodriguez)

Brooklyn Fatal Fire Highlights Hoarding Dangers

Apartment where FDNY officer died was filled with clutter
The casket of Lt. Gordon Ambelas is unloaded off a fire truck during his funeral at the Church of St. Clare in the borough of Staten Island, Thursday, July 10, 2014 in New York. The Fire Department of New York is mourning the death of the lieutenant who became trapped while looking for victims in a public-housing high-rise blaze, the first to die in the line of duty in more than two years. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Published Saturday, July 12, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Another danger lurked as fire and smoke swept through the upper floors of a Brooklyn public-housing high-rise: junk.

The 19th-floor apartment where the blaze started last weekend was piled with it, fire officials said, creating a minefield that's being looked at as a potential factor in the death of a New York City firefighter, the department's first in the line of duty in more than two years.

FRM/FFN: FDNY Lieutenant Fatally Injured in Brooklyn Fire

Lt. Gordon Ambelas' death July 5 came amid what some officials say is an uptick in fire calls complicated by clutter, conditions the FDNY code names "Collyer's Mansion" after the infamous 1947 case of two brothers found dead amid the floor-to-ceiling clutter in their Harlem brownstone.

Up to 5 percent of the population has a hoarding disorder, the American Psychiatric Association estimates, and firefighters say it shows up when entryways, hallways and rooms are blocked by piles of stuff — knickknacks, electronics, clothes, boxes, papers and garbage.

FRM/FFN: Tactics for Battling Fires in Hoarder Homes

"We find it more common today because people have more possessions," said New York Assistant Chief Jim Hodgens, who heads the city's fire academy. "People have two, three TVs. People have more clothes today. I think as a society we have more stuff. ... It complicates the search."

The U.S. Fire Administration does not track hoarding-related fires, nor does the National Fire Protection Association. But there is no shortage of news accounts of fires where junk has played a role.

This week, a woman died in a blaze that tore through a New Jersey row house where firefighters had a hard time reaching her second-floor bedroom because of an extreme amount of clutter on the stairs.

In Portland, Oregon, in April, neighbors were unable to save an elderly man in his burning home because he had too much junk blocking the doors. Fire officials said they were hampered by "extreme clutter/hoarding conditions."

In Manchester, New Hampshire, in February, firefighters said they had trouble getting through knee-deep clutter during a blaze that killed a 72-year-old in her home.

"The front porch was loaded with things. The rear porch was loaded with things every room in the house, the stairway," District Fire Chief Mark Pelletier told WMUR-TV. "Just picture that, trying to walk in that under normal conditions but with full gear on trying to stretch a hose line. It hampered us drastically."

Privacy laws and red tape prevent authorities from fully knowing or understanding the dangers of their buildings and neighborhoods. Fire departments can inspect commercial structures but are often powerless to check residences for hazards.

"We can't just go in and tell someone to clean their apartment," said New York Deputy Commissioner Frank Gribbon.

Instead, they have focused on training firefighters for the Collyer's Mansion call, with its potential for more intense heat and faster-spreading flames.

The FDNY recreates cluttered conditions at its fire academy and updates firefighters on the latest tactics. Dispatchers also note hoarding conditions they learn about through 911 calls or other sources, though Gribbon said that happens infrequently.

Other departments have implemented similar training and protocols.

Communities from Maine to Arizona have also created task forces to develop hoarding mitigation protocols. In some jurisdictions, the panels include mental and public health professionals.

New York fire officials declined to discuss the fire that killed Ambelas in detail citing an ongoing investigation, but did acknowledge the apartment was "heavily cluttered with debris and belongings."

The fire department did not say whether it was aware the apartment was cluttered before the fire started, apparently from a pinched air conditioner cord. The New York City Housing Authority, the owner of the 21-story Brooklyn building, would not answer the question either, citing the investigation.

The tenant, 51-year-old Angel Pagan, was not at home when the fire began. A telephone number for him was repeatedly busy. In interviews after the fire, he expressed sympathy to Ambelas' family. He denied that the apartment was cluttered to excess.

Neighbor Noreida Santiago, 64, said Pagan's apartment was "full of stuff," including multiple air conditioners and furnishings he got on the street.

"Anything he would find, he would bring into his house," she said.

National Fire Protection Association firefighting expert Ken Willette said he believes awareness of the fire dangers of hoarding has grown but that what constitutes a problem is often a matter of the owner's perspective.

"What we view as clutter," he said, "they view as prized possessions."

___

AP reporter Vanessa Alvarez and news researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

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  • Smoke and Thermal Burns Claim FDNY Officer

    Smoke inhalation, thermal burns reported as what killed lieutenant in high-rise fire
    Firefighters stand near a firehouse while talking to reporters about Lt. Gordon Ambelas in New York, Sunday, July 6, 2014. The Fire Department of New York is mourning the death of the lieutenant who became trapped while looking for victims in a public-housing high-rise blaze, the first to die in the line of duty in more than two years. Ambelas died Saturday after suffering multiple injuries while on the 19th floor of the 21-story building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, officials said. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
    Published Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — A 14-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York who was searching for victims in a burning, cluttered high-rise apartment was killed by smoke inhalation and thermal burns, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office said Monday.

    The exact manner of Lt. Gordon Ambelas' death has yet to be determined, spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said, and fire officials declined to detail what happened in the 19th floor apartment of a 21-story public housing building Saturday night, citing the ongoing investigation by fire marshals.

    A funeral for Ambelas, 40, was planned for Thursday morning at a Staten Island church. His death was the department's first in the line of duty in more than two years.

    On Sunday, firefighters gathered to remember Ambelas, a husband and father of two, as they hung purple and black bunting from the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, firehouse where he was stationed.

    "He died a hero — that's how he lived," firefighter, friend and former roommate Eric Bischoff said. Ambelas, he said, was "truly one of the best human beings that anyone would ever want to meet."

    Fellow firefighters found Ambelas unconscious and carried him out of the building. They worked with emergency rescuers to try to revive him, but he died at a hospital, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

    Fire officials say heavy debris, clutter and belongings in an apartment — referred to by firefighters as Collyers' Mansion conditions — can make searches difficult and dangerous, though it wasn't immediately clear what role the clutter might have played in Ambelas' death.

    FRM/FFN: Tactics for Battling Fires in Hoarder Homes

    A spokeswoman for the New York City Housing Authority, the landlord of the city-owned building, wouldn't say whether officials had ever visited the apartment for complaints of hoarding.

    Ambelas had been promoted to lieutenant 10 months ago. Throughout his career he helped the city through its darkest hours, including the recovery from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Superstorm Sandy.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Jake Pearson and radio correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this report.

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    Wake Held for FDNY Lieutenant

    USFA: FDNY Officer Dies While Searching for Occupants

    Lieutenant Ambelas became trapped during search in high-rise building
    USFA Published Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Lieutenant Gordon M. Ambelas, 40, of the Fire Department City of New York on July 5, 2014.

    Lieutenant Ambelas died from injuries sustained when he became trapped while searching for occupants of a burning high-rise residential building.

    Tribute is being paid to Lieutenant Gordon M. Ambelas at http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/
     
    To date, 48 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2014.  Year-to-date and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online at http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/fatalityData/statistics

    Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.

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    To date, 48 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2014.

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