Three firefighters were injured and at least 14 businesses were destroyed when a massive blaze ripped through a row of stores in Queens Friday evening.
FDNY received a call about 6:30 p.m. of a fire in a store that is part of a one-story building on Vleigh Place between 77th Road and 78th Road. The fire spread to neighboring stores located in the building on the block.
By 7:30 p.m., the row of stores were up in flames, FDNY said. Fourteen stores and businesses were destroyed.
The fire has burned through the roof, causing part of it to collapse.
Three firefighters were injured. One suffered a sprain and another fainted, FDNY said.
Firefighters said they arrived within three minutes after the first flames in the first storefront, but it was already too late to save it and 13 other businesses. A common roof is to blame for the fire’s rapid spread.
“Once the fire gets into these concealed spaces up above the roof, it’s almost impossible for us to put it out. We have to worry about the safety of our firefighters,” said Chief of Department James Leonard, FDNY.
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The response grew to a fifth alarm as firefighters attacked the inferno defensively, from the outside disappearing within a thick cloud of black, choking smoke.
The city Department of Buildings condemned the building Saturday afternoon, and store owners were told to retrieve their belongings, then vacate the premises.