By Kathianne Boniello
A Jamaica Avenue restaurant was destroyed and at least two families were displaced Sunday morning by a two-alarm fire that began at 3 a.m.
More than 100 firefighters battled the flames. which ruined the dining room and damaged the bar area of Alr Portuguese Bar & Restaurant as well as the apartments above at 222-07 Jamaica Ave. in Queens Village, the Fire Department said.
A Fire Department spokesman said the blaze broke out on the first floor of the two-story brick building and that it took firefighters nearly an hour to bring the flames under control.
By noon on Sunday a small crowd had gathered to view the damage as restaurant and building owner Matues Ilidio stood on the sidewalk.
Workers began nailing plywood over the front of the burnt-out restaurant, shoveling debris and broken glass out of their way and knocking down loose pieces of wood and metal.
The second-floor tenants went through the unenviable task of loading their belongings and families into waiting cars and vans, bringing bag after bag through the crowd.
Ilidio, a Queens Village resident, said he established his family business 12 years ago.
“We don’t know what happened,” said Ilidio, who said one of his tenants called him at about 3 a.m. to alert him to the blaze.
“It’s painful,” he said as he surveyed the blackened and charred storefront. “This is what you try to work for and make better every year, and all of a sudden it’s gone in a couple of hours.”
“As long as no one got hurt, that’s what matters,” he said.
The Fire Department said Sunday the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
A tenant who did not give her name said three apartments were affected by the fire, including two apartments facing Jamaica Avenue and one in the back.
The fire destroyed the dining room of the restaurant, including most of the storefront and the awning, leaving the space exposed to the street.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.