Firefighters battled a massive five−alarm fire for several hours Saturday in an Astoria commercial building off 31st Street, where more than 10 people were removed and treated for minor injuries, a spokesman for the Fire Department said.
Smoke poured out of the Alma Corporate Plaza building at 37−01 31st St. in Astoria, as more than 100 firefighters battled the blaze in the bitter cold. The fire began around 11:20 a.m. and was not extinguished until just after 3:30 p.m., an FDNY spokesman said.
EMT workers at the scene treated six firefighters and eight office workers for unspecified minor injuries, the spokesman said.
The building houses a number of businesses specializing in cabinetry, lumber, hardware and paint as well as an office for real estate company Vantage Properties. Workers rushed out of the building as the fire spread over the flammable materials and several were rescued through the building’s windows, fire officials said.
An estimated 20 fire trucks lined the streets underneath the elevated N and W subway tracks along 31st Street in Astoria as well as on 37th Street, blocking off both roadways. Most of the windows on the five−story building’s facade were broken during the fire and the building’s interior on the second and third floors appeared to be badly burnt.
Elizabeth Holmes, vice president of Vantage Properties, said some employees were in the building when the fire broke out but were not injured. She said the company’s borough headquarters had been in the building, but have now been transferred to other locations.
“Basically we’re just grateful that no one was hurt,” she said.
“This is the biggest fire I’ve ever seen,” said Rose Luyando, who lives across the street from the commercial building. “It’s like a California wildfire.”
NY1 reported that the structure’s second floor collapsed during the blaze, but FDNY officials could not confirm it.
An FDNY spokesman said investigators had not yet determined the cause of the fire as of Tuesday. He said it could take several weeks to find out whether arson was involved in the incident.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.
©2008 Community News Group
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