March 7, 2017.
Fire marshals are investigating a blaze that broke out in a Lester Court home in Gerritsen Beach on March 1, devastating a family who was almost set to move back in after the city’s housing recovery program Build it Back rebuilt it from scratch.
The tragedy is a flashback to 2012, when Hurricane Sandy destroyed their home along with everything inside — but this time, the family is grateful that all they lost was time, said homeowner Daniel Cepeda.
“I know my wife is pretty heartbroken, so am I, we were just so close. We’ve been out of the house going on 14 months almost, so it’s been a long ride — just being so close and knowing what was going to be happening in the next month or so, having that idea in the back of your mind, that crushes you,” he said. “We didn’t lose anything, and I think my wife puts it the best, ‘We didn’t lose anything but time.’”
Sixty firefighters arrived at the home between Madoc and Noel avenues at 11:20 am, and had everything under control by 11:59 am, a Fire Department spokesman said. The fire was on the second floor and extended into the attic, he said. Two firefighters sustained non-life threatening injuries and were not taken to the hospital, the spokesman said.
Workers were inside the house during the time of the fire doing general interior construction, according to a Build it Back spokesman, and once the fire marshals finish up the investigation, the city will determine the work that’s needed to be done to get the family finally back into their new home.
“We are working closely with FDNY, which is working to determine the cause of the fire,” said Matt Viggiano. “We will ensure that these homeowners return to a resilient and safe home as soon as possible.”
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