Stubborn Blaze Guts Part Of Commercial Building In Jackson Heights

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters were battling a five-alarm blaze at a Queens commercial building Monday night.

The fire broke out around 5:30 p.m. at 74-09 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported. The building houses Plaza College business school and several offices.

For about two hours, flames and dark, thick smoke poured from the building’s third and fourth floors, which appear to have been gutted by the blaze, Young reported.

While the color of the smoke began to lighten around 8 p.m., the FDNY told WCBS 880 around 10:30 p.m. that the fire was still not under control. It reached five alarms just before 10 p.m., officials said.

Witnesses said the fire started on the third floor and then climbed to the fourth.

“We actually thought it was an accident. It sounded like two cars that hit, and like the glasses had popped,” Anna, who had a bird’s-eye view of the fire and called 911, told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “So we just opened the window and looked down.”

An FDNY spokesperson said one child was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center for observation and a firefighter suffered minor injuries, Miller reported.

A four-alarm fire burns at a Jackson Heights, Queens, office building on April 21, 2014. (credit: Lou Young/CBS 2)

A four-alarm fire burns at a Jackson Heights, Queens, office building on April 21, 2014. (credit: Lou Young/CBS 2)

Plaza College did not have night classes in session Monday, and those businesses inside the building were not occupied, Young reported.

However, a number of storefront businesses on the street level, including Frank’s Pharmacy, had to be evacuated.

“We all just ran out,” pharmacy owner Frank Buonagurio said. “We locked the door behind us. And it just kept spreading. They can’t get it under control.”

“It’s very scary, especially when they said, ‘Get out, get out!” a pharmacy employee said. “They didn’t give us a chance to get our stuff.”

It was unclear Monday night what caused the fire.

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