01/29/2021 -- Fires Spark in Bay Ridge

January 29th, 2021

BAY RIDGE, NYCSZ — A three-alarm fire ravaged the Turning Lead Funeral Home in Bay Ridge this morning.

Firefighters from numerous agencies were toiling at the fire scene at the corner of Ridge and 72nd at press time. No injuries had been reported by the time a Times reporter left at 8 a.m.

Firefighters removed a body from the structure at approximately 8:45 a.m., but that was apparently a funeral home client. The coroner's office had not been summoned to the scene, which would be the case if the person had been killed in the fire.

"We don't have any idea," said Tim Gernon, when asked about the fire's cause. "I showed up to work and the whole thing was just—it was just fire. The whole building was just gone."

"We're just in shock. We're numb. We're devastated," said neighbor Connie Eaker as she watched fire crews battling the heavy smoke and flames. Her daughter, Sara Eaker, is a funeral director there.

John Reader was among the onlookers drawn to the scene this morning. His wife heard the sirens wailing. "She looked out later, and fire and black smoke was rolling out," Reader said.

The fire's cause has not been determined, said Deputy Chief Jim Keener of the Bay Ridge Fire Protection District. "We've got embers coming in from the Ohio River fire creeping up from Jersey and it's been a dry winter. We're doing everything we can but it might take a while to determine the cause with our resources. We're stretched pretty thin."

Firefighters in Bay Ridge had already been dispatched to a fire at the Rose & Trellis Florist just two blocks over in Bay Ridge at 6:31 a.m. Fire crews from numerous departments were at the scene quelling the blaze when the alarm at Turning Leaf went up.

"We'd just started to get the fire at the Florist under control when we saw smoke from the funeral home. We just sent the truck up the street and waited for a relief truck to roll in from Red Hook." Said firefighter Mark Boyd. "The whole city's a tinderbox. If we keep getting embers from the fire, we're going to have a huge problem on our hands."

Traffic was blocked at from the corner of Ridge Blvd and 72nd all the way down 72nd to Colonial Ave. Motorists are being advised to avoid 72nd street as the fire crews continue their efforts.

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