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Three Alarm Blaze Wrecks Stores In Inwood

Firefighters at the site of a blaze in Inwood on Jan. 4, 2012. (credit: Kristin Thorne/CBS 2)

Firefighters at the site of a blaze in Inwood on Jan. 4, 2012. (credit: Kristin Thorne/CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A roaring fire ripped through a row of stores with apartments above overnight, forcing firefighters to tackle the blaze during brutally cold weather.

At some points, the smoke was so heavy it was hard to even see the building that houses a strip of stores at 207th Street and Broadway. Firefighters soaked the intense flames with a steady stream of water, but hours later the fire was still burning.

Firefighters were forced to back away from the building when the roof collapsed.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports from the scene of the fire

Nine businesses, including two banks, laundromat, dentist’s office, and pharmacy, were gutted by the smoke and flames.

“I feel really bad because the hardware store is new, the pet store is new, and hopefully they’ll rebuild right away so people can go back to them,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “It’s a sad loss for the neighborhood.”

All of the sloshing, splashing water used to fight the blaze created a new hazard for firefighters: Ice. It was everywhere at the scene, on cars, roofs and of course on the ground, where it was most dangerous.

Fire Chief Chief Michael Massucci told CBS2’s Kristin Thorne that due to the threat of a collapse nobody is allowed inside of the damaged buildings and that they may have to be torn down, although that decision will be in the hands of the Building Department.

Firefighters used salt from the Sanitation Department to help with traction.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire, which broke out on the first floor of the building at around 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

Fortunately, nobody was reported inside any of the stores at the time and only two firefighters sustained minor injuries battling the blaze.