NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fire consumed a strip of storefront businesses Sunday morning in Upper Manhattan, and the flames ate their way through the roof of the building as smoke spewed into the air.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, six firefighters were injured fighting the extra-alarm blaze in Inwood.
Towering flames shot into the sky above a row of businesses on Nagle Avenue near Thayer Street – near the Dyckman Street station on the elevated section of the No. 1 train – just after 10 a.m.
Huge clouds of smoke billowed into the air, and their smell filled the neighborhood as far north as Isham Street and Sherman Avenue more than half a mile away.
“We had heavy fire at arrival. We special-called two tower ladders immediately to get water on the fire, and within six minutes, it went to a second alarm,” said FDNY Chief James Hodgens.
The fire was ultimately raised to a fourth alarm. Each alarm level brings additional crews and equipment to the scene.
Nearly 140 firefighters battled the flames, which tore through seven businesses. Two of them are owned by Francisco Adanes’ 30-year-old daughter.
She had owned a now-gutted grocery store for 12 years and a fruit market for five years.
“All her life she work in there. When she come here and see like that, she cry. She say: “Why?! This is my store, all my life!’” Adanes said. “Now she don’t have nothing.”
“It is devastating for the neighborhood yes. It’s a loss,” said Santiago Quinones. “Now we have to rebuild.”
At the time the fire broke out, all the businesses were closed.
“The fire might have been going for a while, (but) we were able to get water on the fire immediately, so there were no problems,” Hodgens said.
Investigators still do not know what set of the blaze.
“It kind of looks suspicious to me,” Quinones said. “I was wondering why it spread so fast like that.”
Firefighters said they believe the fire may have started in a one-story Chinese restaurant at 150 Nagle Ave. and spread up to the cockloft.
“Once it gets to the void where the hidden space is – it’s a void space between the top of the ceiling and the roof – it travels quickly through several of the occupancies,” Chief Hodgens said.
Inwood resident Fernando Lora added, “They lost everything,” but, “Thank God” they didn’t lose their lives.
On Sunday evening, a couple of fire crews remained at the scene to make sure the fire did not reignite. Con Edison crews were also working at the scene.
Late Sunday night, Dyckman Street reopened in both directions between Sherman and Nagle avenues after being closed for several hours.
The Department of Buildings was also sent to the scene to determine whether the remains from the fire were structurally sound. DOB crews will also determine if any of the buildings that burned can be salvaged.