A single garbage bag now holds all of Indira Suphram’s worldly possessions. With tears in her eyes, she tries to make sense of how her life turned upside down in just hours.
“You’re happy, you eat your dinner. You go to bed and the next morning you’re on the street, with nothing! It’s like one minute you have everything and the next minute you have nothing. That’s how I feel. I hate this 2020,” said Suphram.
The fire tore through Suphram’s Richmond Hill, Queens apartment early Thursday, destroying everything. Four generations of her family: her mom, her two daughters and her granddaughter are now essentially homeless. Two of her nine cats are missing.
“I just want to come and sit in front of this door forever and just scream at the top of my lungs,” said Suphram.
The family is among 40 people displaced by the blaze that destroyed six buildings on Jamaica Avenue. The Fire Department says the fire started in a first-story business before reaching the cockloft — an attic space that spread across in the buildings.
“It’s a tough fire to fight because of the volume of fire and access of where to put water to the fire,” said FDNY Battalion Chief Jim Carney.
More than 200 firefighter responded to the six-alarm fire, which took more than two hours to get under control. Three firefighters were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No civilians were hurt. The Red Cross is working with six families, 21 adults and 10 children, to provide emergency housing assistance. Suphram says for now she has a hotel room for Thursday night. She doesn’t know where she’ll go next.
“It’s cold. And I have no jacket. I have no decent shoes. I have nothing,” said Suphram.
The Red Cross says those needing housing will be placed in hotels for as many as three days. Then the Department of Housing Preservation and Development will try to place them in more permanent housing, which is often a difficult task. All of this, as the holidays approach.