By Kathianne Boniello and Chris Fuchs
Fire Department officials said the fire broke out about 1:50 p.m. Saturday in a defunct pickle factory at 31-01 Linden Place. Just 10 minutes later, officials said, the fire companies fighting the blaze transmitted a second alarm, a request for additional manpower. Two firefighters and one civilian were treated for smoke inhalation, said Jerard Allas, a Fire Department spokesman.
A couple – whose home is next door to the factory – watched as wind-whipped smoke blew around their home and as firefighters doused the rear of their two-story house with one of seven fire hoses. The pair, who did not give their names, said they were told about the fire and raced home from their jobs at LaGuardia Airport, where they had seen the smoke from the blaze. The smoke could also be spotted as far away as south Brooklyn.
It took 138 firefighters from 33 fire companies about six hours to put out the three-alarm fire, Allas said. Fire Department officials said the fire was being considered suspicious and said the fire marshals had been notified well before the blaze was extinguished.
“It used to be a pickle factory. Now it's a graveyard for computers,” Allas said of the building, which was being used to store computers.
Fire Department officials said five people had called to report the fire. David Yegros, who lives next door to the building, said he was not at home when the fire broke out but said his parents had called the Fire Department when they had spotted the smoke.
“It was close, but the firefighters saved it,” Yegros said. “[The pickle factory] is torn down. It's gone. The roof is gone and everything is on the floor. There is rubble all over the street.” Yegros added that his house was not damaged by the fire.
A large group of people came out of a nearby office building and gathered on a corner across the street from the burning factory to watch firefighters do their work. Numerous fire trucks and police cars cordoned off the streets surrounding the building, closing down parts of Linden Place and 31st Drive.