Today’s news:

Willets Point fire guts 5 businesses

A firefighter sustained a minor injury Friday evening after a three-alarm blaze tore through a two-story commercial building in Willets Point, gutting the property and sending black smoke billowing into the air, the FDNY said.

The property, which houses a number of businesses, was so badly damaged that the city Department of Buildings and Office of Emergency Management informed the FDNY Monday that they were boarding up the building at 126-12 34th Ave. and the city DOB issued a full vacate order on the property.

A call came in reporting the fire at 5:25 p.m. Friday, and it took a total of 138 firefighters from 33 units until 7:12 p.m. to get the blaze under control, according to FDNY spokesman John Ryan.

Ryan said Monday there has been no finding as to whether arson is suspected in the blaze.

“We don’t have any cause or determination yet. That will take a while,” Ryan said. “It’ll take a couple days or maybe a week.”

The brick building has five commercial units, according to property records. Businesses with their addresses listed as being housed in the building include Sotos Marble Granite and Tiles Corp., Dugout Grill and Silver Star Hand Car Wash.

In the winter of 2008, DOB inspectors visited the property twice to respond to a complaint about illegal or defective gas piping but were unable to gain access to the building, and no violation was issued, according to DOB records.

“Caller states illegal piping of gas line in commercial building/caller is paying and gas is going to everyone in building/caller has been smelling gas for the last week because of problem with the electr (sic),” the records said.

Fire marshals were still investigating Tuesday whether or not gas lines were a factor in the fire, according to the FDNY.

The city plans to undertake a $3 billion redevelopment of the 62-acre derelict Willets Point area. In the 20-acre first construction phase of its construction, the city Economic Development Corp. is moving forward with eminent domain proceedings against nine businesses which have not agreed to sell their land to the city to make way for the new development.

The EDC said the building is not located in the first phase of the proposed development’s construction area, and that as such the owners of the property and its tenants have not received eminent domain notices from the city. The EDC did not say whether or not the building’s owners have signed a relocation agreement with the city.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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