A man was reportedly killed last week after a raging fire ripped through a Brighton Beach bungalow — a blaze that had some worrying that the spree of arsons that terrorized the small beach house community last year was continuing.
Yet concerns were quickly assuaged Friday when news spread that the fire was accidental. The FDNY, however, has not officially rendered its decision.
“We understand that someone in the home fell asleep with a lit cigarette, but we don’t know if he lived there or was homeless,” said Brighton Beach advocate Judd Fischler, who is also president of the 60th Precinct Community Council. “We first thought it was arson, but it looks like all the arsons have stopped.”
FDNY officials said that no one was living in the bungalow at 2955 Brighton 5th Street near Ocean View Avenue when the 8:45 p.m. fire broke out on January 22.
At least one person found inside the bungalow had suffered third-degree burns, officials said. He was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital Burn Unit.
Two firefighters who helped put out the blaze were also rushed to the Staten Island University Hospital Burn Unit with minor injuries.
By Tuesday, FDNY officials had not released a Fire Marshal’s report on the cause of the blaze.
Yet the results were apparently leaked to neighbors, who were told that a lit cigarette started the fire.
Thursday’s fire comes months after a series of blazes that tore through Brighton Beach’s bungalow community.
Many residents believe that the fires were arson, although the FDNY has yet to reveal what sparked the blazes at 28 Brighton 5th Walk, 2932 Brighton 3rd Street and 2944 Brighton 5th Street, which took place at different times last year. At one point, FDNY officials did theorize that the fires were started by squatters in the normally vacant one-story homes.
Critics have charged that the homes were set ablaze by condo developers, who were hoping to raze the scorched homes and build up as high as the zoning in the neighborhood would allow.
City officials said the zoning for Brighton Beach’s bungalow community is currently mixed, with some lots allowing for one- or two-family homes and others allowing for high-rise development.
The down-zoning process for the neighborhood has just begun, neighbors said.
-with Michele DeMeglio