A five-alarm fire in Brooklyn destroyed 10 houses and left 29 families homeless yesterday - as local residents and the firefighters' union head lambasted the Bloomberg administration for closing nearby Engine 212 last spring.
The fast-moving blaze began at 10:21 a.m. at 97 Monitor St. in Greenpoint, and rapidly spread to 10 other wooden row frame houses, destroying all but one.
"I feared the worst," said Mike Lydon, who heard about the blaze on his car radio. He sped to his home of 30 years to find the top floor gone.
Lydon said things might have turned out differently if Engine 212, the so-called "People's Firehouse" - just over a mile away - hadn't been closed in May for budgetary reasons.
"Had they not closed that firehouse, the response time would have been a lot quicker," he charged.
Doreen Scanlon, 36, lost the home where she lived with her 15- and 7-year-old daughters and elderly father.
"My whole life is in there," she said.
Most of the windows were broken and her roof was ripped open, but her Halloween decorations above the door somehow survived intact.
"My house is gone but the pumpkins are still flying," she said wistfully.
Twenty people were hurt, including 17 firefighters.
None of the injuries was life threatening.
Dana Tizzio, 15, said her father, Michael, 47, was hurt when he fell trying to save their tenant's cat. Michael was treated at a local hospital.
The cause of the blaze was not known.
An FDNY official insisted the response time was "very good."
Department records show that Engine Co. 229, 238 and Ladder Co. 146 arrived in four minutes. Engine Co. 206 arrived two minutes later.
The official said the fire was difficult to control because it spread in all directions.
In addition, Fire Department spokesman Paul Iannizzotto said that even if the "People's Firehouse," at 136 Wythe St., had been in operation, its members would not have been the first on the scene.
But Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy disagreed.
"This is a tragedy that could have been prevented had Engine 212 been open," he said.
Additional reporting by Zach Haberman