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Investigators Have Few Answers in Mysterious Carroll Street Fire

By Sonja Sharp | September 5, 2012 9:22am

CROWN HEIGHTS — For the second time this summer, 83-year-old Mordechai Gil stood outside his charred Carroll Street apartment, watching helplessly as firefighters combed the debris for clues about the blaze that destroyed his home.

"I haven’t been back," said the longtime resident, who has been staying nearby since a May 28 kitchen fire gutted his apartment. "This fire, I don’t know how it started. Nobody knows. There was nobody there — no gas, no people, no nothing."

Firefighters identified Gil’s apartment as the source of the fast-moving blaze that engulfed the building in Crown Heights just after 2:30 a.m. Monday morning, injuring 22 and badly damaging two other units.

Eleven residents were treated at the scene, and 11 firefighters were transported with minor injuries. Most residents were able to return to their apartments by Tuesday morning.

But for others, the ordeal was only just beginning. The entire western face of the building was boarded up, and neighbors said the residents of the other two units damaged in the blaze are out of town.

One of those residents left her 7-year-old cat, Mashka, in the care of a neighbor. The cat hasn't been seen since the fire broke out.

“I was taking care of her beloved cat twice a day,” neighbor Zee Rocker told DNAinfo.com New York on Monday. “They have a very special relationship. I can’t even describe it.”

Fire officials declined to state if the fire was suspicious. The Department of Buildings said it had no record of recent complaints or violations at that location.