By Bill Parry
Firefighters were still on the scene of a massive five-alarm blaze in Jackson Heights Tuesday morning with Tower Ladders 107 and 54 dousing the Bruson Building with water because of hot spots.
The Bravest had been called to 74-09 37th Ave. at 5:45 p.m. Monday, and the fire was upgraded several times before a fifth alarm was declared, fire officials said.
It took nearly 200 firefighters from 39 units to bring the blaze under control at 11:40 p.m., nearly six hours after the initial 911 call, the Fire Department said. Seven firefighters and one police officer suffered minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals, according to the FDNY.
In addition, 14 families from a neighboring building were housed by the Red Cross overnight because of high carbon monoxide readings in their homes. The 21 adults and two children were able to return home Tuesday morning, according to Red Cross communications officer Michael Devulpillieres.
The four-story building, which primarily is filled with offices, houses Plaza College, a four-year school specializing in medical and business careers, according to the school’s website.
The college’s Facebook page said that all faculty, staff and students had been safely evacuated Monday. The posting also said that the school would not provide any services Tuesday and updates would be provided after more information from the Fire Department was available.
Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), whose office is just a few doors down on 74th Street, said, “There are nearly 50 small businesses in that building, everything from accountants to dentists. We’re having an emergency meeting this morning to see what the Small Business Administration can do to help these people get back on their feet.”
Fire officials said the blaze was concentrated in the third and fourth floors, which appear to be gutted. Businesses on the first and second floors, including two restaurants, a jewelry store and a pharmacy, appeared to have water damage.
“It’s a devastating thing to happen to this community,” Dromm said. Even the Queens Community House, the immigration agency, is in that building. We’ve had these kind of disasters in Jackson Heights before, and we always come back strong.”
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, fire officials said.