A fire raged through a row of businesses in Sunnyside early Thursday, collapsing part of a roof and injuring 12 people including seven firefighters.
None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, Emergency Medical Services Chief James Booth said at the scene.
The fire was reported in a restaurant around 2:15 a.m. Thursday on Queens Boulevard, and the flames spread between the roof and ceilings to neighboring businesses. About six businesses were affected, according to Assistant Fire Chief Anthony DeVita Jr.
Orange flames shot into the air and smoke engulfed the neighborhood of Sunnyside.
At least a dozen firefighters were in the immediate area when an apparent “smoke explosion” erupted and the roof collapsed, DeVita said.
“The chiefs on scene were proactive,” he said. “They saw this was an advanced fire and they began to back the troops out. Because they took that action, that more than likely prevented more serious injuries.”
Nearly 200 firefighters and emergency personnel worked to prevent the fire from spreading to other structures.
“A number of firefighters and residents were injured during the incident. My thoughts are with them and their families in hopes of a speedy recovery. I thank them and the more than 200 FDNY members who responded for their bravery,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.
Fire officials said the blaze was under control and the cause was under investigation.
Now the affected small businesses will rebuild.
Gianaris said he reached out to various agencies, including the American Red Cross, Office of Emergency Management, FDNY, Small Business Services, and the Small Business Administration to offer his assistance in recovery and rebuilding efforts for the affected businesses.
“The hard part, beyond rebuilding, will be the lost wages for all those affected, both ownership and employees, during a difficult time of year,” said Thomas Grech, the CEO and president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
Moving forward, Grech advised business owners to have all the proper insurance policies in place and to double check premiums paid, deductibles. For assistance and referrals to reputable providers, businesses can always call the Queens Chamber of Commerce at 718-898-8500.