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FDNY discovers hundreds of illegally stored propane tanks on residential street in East Elmhurst, not far from Citi Field

Dec. 7, 2023 By Bill Parry

The FDNY prevented a potential catastrophe on a residential black in East Elmhurst on the morning of Friday, Dec. 1.

Fire inspectors, acting on a tip from a resident on the block who smelled gas, discovered hundreds of illegally stored propane tanks and cylinders stashed in a storage area and yard behind 32-49 104th St., according to the FDNY. If left unchecked, the illicit propane distribution site could have potentially leveled apartment houses and homes on the block. The FDNY recovered 236 propane tanks. Half of the 20-pound and 100-pound cylinders were leaking gas which could have caused a massive blast.

The FDNY prevented a potential disaster when fire inspectors discovered hundreds of illegal propane tanks stored haphazardly on a residential block in East Elmhurst.Photo courtesy of FDNY

“This discovery was made just about a dozen blocks away from Citi Field,” FDNY Deputy Chief Inspector Mike Reardon told QNS. “Fortunately a complaint was made and we dispatched members of the Special Investigation Unit out to the location and a potential disaster was averted. This has been an ongoing situation around the city, people operate these illegal propane storage sites where they sell tanks to street vendors. The tanks were confiscated and the co-owner was taken into custody.”

Police from the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights arrested Elmer Roblero and charged him with reckless endangerment. Reardon said the FDNY urges the public to call 311 to report suspicious or dangerous conditions.

The FDNY prevented a potential disaster when fire inspectors discovered hundreds of illegal propane tanks stored haphazardly on a residential block in East Elmhurst.Photo courtesy of FDNY

“This was the second time our investigators were out to this location,” Reardon said. “These guys are out there every day and they’re identifying threats like these propane tanks.”

The members of the Special Investigation Unit are also on the front lines in the battle against lithium-ion batteries which have sparked fatal fires that have killed 18 people across the city this year.

“These guys are always out there looking for these lithium-ion batteries that are causing so many fires across the city,” Reardon said. “You see these e-bikes charging on the ground floor of a building, but there are families living upstairs in apartments with no sprinkler systems in the building. Very dangerous, and they are finding this stuff every day.”

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