ASTORIA, NY (WPIX)—Tonight all that lingers along 31st Street in Astoria, Queens, is the sound of hammering and a sense of sorrow. Workers spent the night boarding up a home destroyed by fire. Amongst the charred remains still visible from the street are record albums, a singed recliner, and a staircase, still standing but seriously burned; a silent sign of how furious this deadly fire was.
Fire victim George Samaritis lived here with his wife, neighbors say. Police say the 66-year-old Queens man died in the early afternoon fire that destroyed his two story house on 31st Road, in Astoria. His wife survived.
The couple owned a nearby pizzeria on 21st Street for more than thirty years. Tonight the shop was packed but not with customers. It was filled with grief stricken family members too upset to talk to reporters tonight.
Police responded to a report of a fire here at 11:59 this morning. Upon arrival they found victim George Samaritis inside the home unconscious and unresponsive. An ambulance crew took him to Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, where he was pronounced DOA.
Two other people in the home at the time were treated for minor injuries as were two firefighters. An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. Police say no criminality is suspected at this time.