A stubborn four-alarm fire at the popular Flo Café in Astoria left debris on the street and multiple apartments destroyed. Fire officials say they responded with 39 units totaling 168 firefighters to the blaze that started at 7:19 a.m. on Tuesday morning. By 11:31 a.m., the fire was under control after 14 firefighters suffered minor injuries, nine of which were treated at Elmhurst Hospital. Fighting the fire from the interior became too dangerous making the morning’s efforts an exterior operation. The cause of the fire is still under investigation though it has been speculated that the café’s boiler may have been the source. The Flo Café is located at 37-20 30th Avenue.
Kevin O’Callaghan, who lived on the second story of the complex, was woken up by his girlfriend when she smelled smoke billowing in through the floor and walls.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said O’Callaghan across the street from his destroyed apartment. “We had all our documentation in there, our birth certificates, two laptop computers . . . We had just returned from a trip to the Bahamas so about 300 pictures were lost.”
O’Callaghan continued to mention that the fire alarm didn’t go off until they were making their way out of the building. He said that firefighters were on the scene seconds after they made it outside.
“They thought they had the [flames] contained. Obviously, that wasn’t the case,” said O’Callaghan.
Dozens gathered around as firefighters worked late into the afternoon putting out hot spots still smoldering in the above apartments.
“It was a great place for dates. All the neighborhood kids would hang out here. It’s tragic and a disappointment,” said Mona Nansour, a local resident in Astoria.