Candle blamed for Corona blaze – QNS.com

Candle blamed for Corona blaze

Eight Corona stores went up in smoke as a fire erupted in the early hours of Tuesday, September 26, under the elevated No. 7 line subway tracks along Roosevelt Avenue. Four of the businesses were completely gutted in the blaze that took over two hours to bring under control.
The fire started at approximately 2:11 a.m. in the corner row of stores at 103rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue, and over 138 firefighters battled the blaze according to the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) spokesperson. Fortunately, only three firemen suffered minor injuries.
The cause of the conflagration, according to the FDNY, was apparently a candle left burning inside one of the stores, presumably for religious reasons.
In the aftermath of the fire, which took place under the 103rd Street Corona Plaza Station, traffic in the busy business area was gridlocked for blocks and most of the businesses in the vicinity were closed.
The police blocked all traffic at one point on Tuesday, for a block in each direction to allow backhoes to raze what was left of the structure, while hundreds of bystanders looked on.
&#8220Every day I walk through here, and it's so weird to see it burnt down,” said Jessie Duran, an events photographer that lives just a few blocks away. &#8220Some of these stores have been here for years and years, they're a staple of the community.”
Most residents empathized with the owners of the shops, noting their longevity at the locations.
&#8220I feel bad for the businesses here,” said Mike Gonzales, a nearby resident who lives on 102nd Street. &#8220A couple of those stores were there for over 20 years.”
On Wednesday morning, Assemblymember Jose Peralta held a meeting for those business owners affected by the fire at the Corona-Elmhurst Center for Economic Development located on 104th Street to provide assistance in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
&#8220Being that small businesses are the engine that drives the Corona economy, this was devastating for them,” he said. &#8220We need to make sure that these individuals, whether they are owners or employees have a place to turn for help.”
Despite the size of the fire, most residents were not aware of the blaze until Tuesday morning when they walked outside or saw it on the morning news shows.
&#8220I didn't hear sirens, but my sister-in-law smelled a lot of smoke from her bedroom,” Duran said.
Service on the No. 7 line experienced disruptions from 2:40 to 5:47 a.m. The subway trains were forced to bypass the 103rd Street station. Service for Q 48 bus, which has a bus stop adjacent to the fire scene, was rerouted throughout the day as the demolition of the structures continued.
&#8220This is a busy bus stop,” Duran said. &#8220It brings people from Forest Hills. I think a lot of people will be affected by this.”
The FDNY was called back in at about 5:00 p.m. Tuesday to check the area again due to a strong odor of gas. The scene was secured by two engine companies and a ladder company.

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