NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An extra-alarm fire broke out Friday evening at the TGI Friday’s restaurant on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, shutting down the busy thoroughfare for four blocks.
Firefighters responded shortly after 8:45 p.m. for the fire at the TGI Friday’s at 604 Fifth Ave., between 48th and 49th streets and close to Rockefeller Center, officials told CBS 2.
The FDNY initially raised two alarms, but the fire was raised to three alarms around 9:40 p.m. It was not brought under control until the 11 p.m. hour.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the thick black smoke and tall flames on the famous and packed thoroughfare prompted an explosion of postings on social media. People on the street were shocked by the scene.
“It was crazy. We were having dinner down on the ice skating rink. We looked up and saw this black smoke,” said Bob Cattin.
“Flames just started shooting out like crazy. It was unbelievable,” a witness, Betty, told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.
One dramatic video showed taken from inside a nearby skyscraper shows flames shooting out of the top of the six-story building. Another vantage point was around Rockefeller Center, where witnesses ran up the block to get a closer look.
“There was smoke all over the rooftop, and a very intense smell, and we came up to see, and it wouldn’t stop – it was bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger,” said witness Mariana Sanguinetti.
The people inside the restaurant had to be ushered out. But the surrounding buildings primarily hold offices, and most of the people who work in the offices had gone home for the day.
People who gathered nearby said the massive FDNY response was remarkably quick. The department squeezed at least 106 firefighters and 25 units into the area, and Fifth Avenue was shut down from 46th Street to 50th Street.
Some people in stores and restaurants were ordered out.
“They put it out really fast, but then they kept coming because I think they were evacuating people,” Sanguinetti said.
Firefighters said the blaze broke out in the restaurant kitchen, located in the basement. Flames and smoke raced to the top of the building through the duct work.
“Sometimes the ducts get grease and different things in them, and once it gets going, you’ll end up with a fire like that,” said FDNY Chief Richard Howe.
PHOTOS: Midtown TGI Friday’s Fire
One firefighter suffered minor injuries, officials told 1010 WINS.
The people in the restaurant were evacuated, but most nearby buildings house offices that were closed for the night.
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