PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A stubborn, wind-whipped blaze on Long Island on Thursday created an hours-long fiery spectacle that knocked out power for much of a busy street.
More than 200 firefighters from 11 departments struggled with the Port Washington blaze, which started before 1:30 p.m.
They battled a tough combination of high winds and a century-old wooden structure that kept bumping up a blaze stretching half a block on Main Street.
Port Washington Police told 1010 WINS on Thursday night that the fire at the three-story building was under control.
Thick smoke poured from attic spaces into six apartments and four businesses, including an AT&T store, restaurant, bodega and Rosa Pizzeria, owned by Benny Anzelmo.
“The fire started on the roof because I seen a couple of people working on a roof couple of days ago,” Anzelmo said.
Among the first to see flames on the roof of the historic building and alert others was Robert Pachtman, owner of a now-destroyed Fusion Wireless.
“I ran through the building went up one or two flights of steps and told everyone ‘Fire! Get out! Get out!’” Pachtman said.
The stores were all gutted, police said.
A utility worker suffered a minor injury caused by a falling shingle from the building.
About 100 people were evacuated from the 15 apartments and some of them were to spend the night at a nearby senior center turned shelter set up by the Red Cross.
The focus of the investigation turned to on roofers who were working on the building and possibly using torches on a very windy day, authorities said.
“Perhaps they weren’t following the rules and regulations that govern people working on the roof, whether they were or were not working with propane and how they were working with that,” said Nassau County Fire Marshal James Hickman.
Earlier, onlookers described the scene to CBS 2′s Dave Carlin.
“Look how much water is flowing from those two tower ladders — it is tremendous,” Port Washington resident Rino Candela said.
Even when it looked like firefighters had gained the upper hand, another setback blew in.
“They’ve dumped a tremendous amount of water on it, but the wind — every time they knock it down — the wind just brings the fire back,” Candela said.
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