NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A dozen firefighters suffered minor injuries while knocking down a massive restaurant fire in Murray Hill early Friday morning.
The five alarm blaze broke out about 12:30 a.m. at 200 E. 39th Street near Third Avenue and took hours before it was finally contained shortly before sunrise. Byblos Restaurant and the Frontier Coffee Shop sustained major damage from the fire.
Twelve firefighters, two emergency service technicians, and one other person suffered smoke inhalation. Residents inside neighboring apartment buildings were evacuated as a precaution, though the fire never spread to those buildings.
WCBS 880′s Sean Adams said sometime after midnight, one of the managers in the restaurant noticed smoke in the ceiling above the kitchen. There was no one in the restaurant at the time. The stubborn fire compromised the one-story building’s roof and air conditioning unit.
The Frontier Coffee Shop was a Greek diner with a western theme — it was the American dream for the two immigrant brothers who started the restaurant in 1974.
Spiro Cugemitros, one of the next generation that has taken over the business, says they can rebuild but he’s worried about his 40 employees.
“We’ve always been raised to take care, do the right thing,” Cugemitros said. “We’re younger and we’re trying to do the right thing with everybody.”
Streets were closed around 39th Street and Third Avenue, affecting the morning commute.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.