FLORAL PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The arson bomb squad is investigating an early Sunday morning fire that wiped out a string of mom and pop stores on Long Island.

Investigators said the fire started in a restaurant kitchen, and quickly spread, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.

As firefighters fought to suppress the flames on Covert Avenue in Floral Park, Paul Capoziello fought to suppress his tears standing before the remains. Twelve years of blood, sweat, and tears are gone.

“I got a phone call this morning saying there was a fire. Got up here, I thought maybe we’d be all right, but it got worse and worse,” Capoziello said.

Capoziello’s restaurant, Capo, was one of at least five businesses ravaged by the early morning flames. Two restaurants, a nail salon, and an eyelash studio were among those suffering major damage, officials said. Others were still waiting to see what they can recover.

“My son works at the pizzeria, so I was talking to the owner. The owner was just watching. I felt so bad for him, just waiting to see if it was going to hit his store,” Floral Park resident Vivian Vitale said.

Firefighters said the flames started in the kitchen area of Park Place Diner, then spread quickly through the attic down the row of stores.

“It was pretty much gas fed in the back. That’s what took us a while to get this thing under control,” said Patrick McAllister of the Floral Park Fire Department.

The community stood united in grief, remembering how much these mom and pop stores were a part of their childhoods, but also how much they contributed to feeding first responders through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s just so upsetting in this year. How much worse can 2020 get is all I keep thinking? These people have struggled through the quarantine, they made it, and now this,” said Regina Savarese of New Hyde Park.

Emotional families have been left wondering how much more a community can take.

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