Last weekend, a fire ripped through an abandoned house on 98th Street in Woodhaven.  Luckily, and most importantly, no one was badly hurt -- we are all very grateful for that. 

But this could very easily have killed many residents.   And it was totally and completely preventable.  Read this -- and let us know if there are any other situations like this on your block. 

Here is the house in question -- the damage to the home was complete and total.  And it was a tragedy waiting to happen as the home had been abandoned for over 15 years -- and it was being used as a hangout by teenagers.  Repeated requests for assistance from the surrounding neighbors did nothing to help.  We spoke to one of the neighbors today and they were extremely angry and frustrated -- they told us of the many times over the years they made complaints -- to the Police, to the Buildings Department, to the local Woodhaven Civic Organizations -- and the problem was never resolved.  This is the result of neglect. 

To an outsider, it's hard to tell after such a fire how much of this is damage and how much of this is lack of maintenance.  But from neighbors we heard stories of rotting wood, debris, animals going in and out of the house freely -- and, of course, graffiti (which you can see below). 

Here's where the story gets worse -- although the Fire Department managed to get the fire under control, unfortunately they weren't able to control the fire before it spread to the next house. 

That's right -- the good people who tried to do the right thing -- who tended to their property and raised the alarm numerous times -- who warned everyone that this could happen -- they had to have their worst nightmare come true -- and when this abandoned piece of crap went up in flames, it destroyed the upper two floors of their own home.   

Everyone remembers the February 2009 fire on 96th Street that spread to almost a dozen homes -- these are old wooden homes, built in 1925, and they're all very close to one another.  Fire could spread from one house to the next in the blink of an eye.  How did we all let this happen?  As noted above, the warning signs were all there --

The first complaint -- on record, that we can find -- says "HOUSE IS IN DISREPAIR. ROOF IS LEAKING, BROKEN WINDOWS APPEARS TO BE AN UNSAFE BUILDING."  And this complaint was "resolved" with a promise to attempt to serve a building violation --  "FAILURE TO MAINTAIN.FRONT PORCH ROOF HAS HOLES AND GUTTERS AND FACIA ARE ROTTON AND MISSING."

Complaint after complaint followed. 

January of 1998, Failure to maintain. Disposition? Resolved. No violation warranted for complaint at time of inspection. No action taken.

May of 1998, Failure to maintain. Disposition? Resolved. Approximately 50% of shingles are loose. Cornice loose. Boardings exposed, no gutters. Violations prepared and will attempt to serve.

June of 1998, Failure to maintain. Disposition? Resolved. Hazardous. One car garage at rear in danger of collapse. Emergency declaration submitted. Attempt to serve will be made.

Seven months after the Emergency declaration was submitted about the garage, it collapsed.

January of 1999. Garage collapsed. Emergency Declaration filed for the Garage, house is also in disrepair. Disposition? Resolved. Garage demolished, remains removed.

June of 2001. Building vacant, open and unguarded. Outside is very overgrown, structure is not very stable, this is hazardous. Disposition? Resolved. No violation warranted. Building not open vacant, unguarded, no weeds growing.

April of 2003. Building vacant and abandoned, structural stability in question. Disposition? Resolved. No violation warranted. Building is vacant and completely sealed and secured. No evidence of structural stability in affected.

If you get tired of reading these complaints, imagine how the people making them for 15 years feel. Let's skip to the last one, which is interestingly enough posted the day after the fire -- but must have been made before -- the gate is open and a homeless person is inhabiting the property.


Note:  Yeah, we blurred out the owner's name.  It's online if you really need to know.

So we have years of neglect -- and repeated warnings from residents that were also neglected -- and it came damn close to being a full-scale tragedy.  It may be too late for this particular house -- but there are others in this neighborhood that need to be followed up on.  In fact . . .

Here's one that needs attention right now. 

88-32 80th Street -- beautiful house built in 1910, nice piece of property, look at that nice big driveway:

Pay attention to the open window at the back -- there's some bricks or boxes on the ground beneath -- and that's how local teenagers and some shady characters are getting inside.  This place is not closed and secure by any stretch of the imagination.

You can see graffiti inside the house -- and a local man who ventured inside saw marijuana bags, crack vials, and needles.  When we stopped to take these pictures, a resident stopped us and expressed tremendous concern about this house.  It's easy to see why.

Not for nothing, but what kind of moron sees a house in this condition . . . and leaves a Domino's Pizza flyer on the gate?

These guys aren't exactly worried about anyone doing anything, are they?  This is a brazen takeover of a piece of our neighborhood and cannot be tolerated. 

This has been reported to the Department of Buildings -- and to the NYPD.  We will make sure the 102nd Precinct is aware of this (we are certain they are already) -- and we will keep our eyes on this.

Look at the picture above, at the pretty house next door -- what a nightmare to have to live next door to this.  Are these people going to have to wait 15 years?  Again, this is an absolutely brazen and hostile takeover of a piece of Woodhaven.  Are we, as a community, going to take this?  Or do we let this become the norm and just hope it doesn't happen on our block anytime soon?   

Some of these pictures we took -- others were submitted anonymously.  In this one below you can see one of the animals that have been spotted going in and out of the house.  Unfortunately, it's a bunch of two-legged animals that are doing the most damage. 

The Woodhaven Residents Block Association will hold their next open Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 19th at 1 PM at the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  If you have invested your time and money and your lives into this community, you really should attend. 

If you have any comments, or would like to suggest other projects, drop us a line at or .  

Bookmark and Share

Return to Project Woodhaven's Home Page