NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly a dozen firefighters were recovering Sunday morning after an extra-alarm fire broke out at a farmers market in Glendale, Queens.
It took about for hours and 200 firefighters to finally put out the flames at the farmers market on Myrtle Avenue at 72nd Street Saturday night. The fire broke out around 9 p.m. Saturday and was raised to five alarms.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, issues with water pressure made the blaze even more challenging for first responders.
Hours later on Sunday morning, a major scene remained with several blocks closed off.
The building that housed the 24-hour farmers market was gutted.
“I came outside. I saw the flame like up to the sky – like, very alarmed,” said Antonio Sanzone of Glendale.
The fire started around 9 p.m. and grew very quickly, spreading to several apartments. The block became a smoky red haze, and the farmers market suffered the worst of the damage.
“A lot of smoke, I mean, a lot of smoke,” said Eduviges Santiago of Glendale. “I said, this is not good, because it just went from like a little bit of flames to like a lot of smoke, within 4 or 5 minutes.”
The smoke was so thick, neighbor Maureen Fahr couldn’t find her way out. The asthmatic started to panic.
“You couldn’t see the people, all I saw was the flickering of the mosque from the lantern,” she said. “You couldn’t even see the firemen.”
The lanterns were at the mosque right next door, which actually owns the now gutted building. All the owners were inside celebrating the last night of Ramadan.
Instead of feasting, they provided shelter.
“They invited me and my dog and I had no cover, they said ‘don’t worry.’ And I’m a Catholic, so I said I can’t go in and they said ‘of course you can, come in here,’ and they gave me something to eat, something to drink,” Fahr said.
Owner Murad Velovic told CBS2 they don’t like to kick anyone out.
Residents gathered outside as crews tried to control angry flames on an already-hot summer night. Their neighborhood grocery store was lost before their eyes.
It took four hours to put the fire out, and Battalion Chief Jim Kane says water pressure in the neighborhood was low when the flames broke out.
One hydrant wasn’t even working.
“We had to get the water from further away, instead of just on this block we had to go two blocks out, three blocks out,” he said Sunday.
One civilian and 11 firefighters were injured. All were expected to recover, and many neighbors were thankful the fire wasn’t worse.
“They lost their business, but you can get that back,” Santiago said.
The owners say the building will have to be demolished, as the cause of the fire remained under investigation Sunday evening.