By Dustin Brown
Businesses in a Long Island City factory building have continued operating after sustaining minimal damage in two fires that struck within a week of one another late last month.
Firefighters were called to 43-10 23rd St. shortly after 9 a.m. the day after Christmas for a one-alarm fire in a seven-story storage room.
The fire broke out exactly one week after a kiln used by a third- floor pottery manufacturer sparked a small blaze in the middle of the night, according to the building manager.
Although the Dec. 26 fire destroyed the contents of a storage room on the seventh floor — which a building employee said was filled with furniture placed there during a painting job — the blaze was contained in that area.
The fire only reached one alarm and was under control shortly after 10 a.m., the Breaking News Network reported.
FDNY officials did not have any information available about either fire.
Building occupants were rapidly evacuated from the building when the Dec. 26 fire was reported.
“I was inside there and didn’t know anything was going on,” said Garfield Branche, an employee of pottery and wood manufacturer Saparna, which operates a distribution center across the hall from the storage room.
When Branche was warned about the fire and opened the door into the hallway, “there was smoke burning in your eyes,” he said. “Couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see.”
Firefighters were running up the stairs as he ran down, he said.
The building manager said Saparna had experienced the most damage — primarily from water and smoke.
Saparna manager Sam Sheppard said Friday he had yet to evaluate the damage, although he pointed to a set of boarded-up windows that needed to be replaced after firefighters broke them to air out the building.
J & B, a clothing manufacturer that occupies most of the seventh floor, was only affected by smoke.
“We got out unscathed,” said a friend of J&B owner Eddie An who did not give his name. “Hopefully, (the smoke) won’t come out in the fabric.”
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.