MELISSA CHAN AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO
Five people were injured, two of them seriously, when a fire erupted inside a popular Whitestone Chinese restaurant Saturday, fire officials said.
Flames broke out at Emperor House Chinese Restaurant around 4:49 p.m., according to the FDNY.
Three victims sustained minor injuries and one man was being treated for second-degree burns at Jacobi Medical Center, authorities said.
Another victim was in serious but stable condition, the FDNY said.
Workers in the 10th Avenue shopping center said a man they believed to be either the restaurant’s owner or manager “came running out on fire.”
“His whole body was burned. His clothes were on fire,” said Angel Soriano, who works at a pizzeria next door.
Soriano said his co-workers tried smothering the blaze with towels while others threw water on the man.
“It was chaos,” said Ken Chieco, who also works at the pizzeria.
Devon O’Connor, president of the Welcome to Whitestone Civic Association, said the fire incinerated a woman’s hair and burned her arm.
The blaze was under control by 5:26 p.m., fire officials said. The cause is under investigation.
Emperor House was boarded up and roped off as of August 12.
Neighbors said they did not know the owner’s name, but described him as kind and friendly.
“When my daughter would work late, he would drive her home,” said Michelle Dejean. “That’s how nice that man is. Very nice people work there.”
Updated, Monday, August 12