By Robert Pozarycki
Twelve people, including seven firefighters, were injured after flames ripped through a row of stores on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside early Thursday morning, according to the FDNY.
Fire Department sources said the five-alarm inferno broke out Dec. 13 at about 2:14 a.m. inside the New York Style Eats restaurant located at 45-02 Queens Blvd., near 45th Street. The flames rapidly spread to several adjacent businesses.
Firefighters arrived on the scene within four minutes of a 911 call regarding the fire, according to Assistant Chief Anthony DeVita. The FDNY determined that six businesses along Queens Boulevard were affected by the blaze; firefighters worked to prevent the flames from spreading to adjoining residential and commercial structures on 46th Street, DeVita said during a press conference at the scene.
The situation took a more frightening turn when a number of firefighters got caught in a violent backdraft — a blast of flames and heavy smoke.
An eyewitness — whom the Fire Department credited as John Joseph Ramos — filmed the fire from the nearby 46th Street 7 train station.
DeVita said that the backdraft is believed to have triggered a partial collapse within 45-02 Queens Blvd., allowing the flames to spread further through the adjoining businesses.
The FDNY reported that seven firefighters and five civilians were hospitalized for injuries sustained in the blaze, according to WABC-TV. One of the civilians was reported to be in serious condition.
Firefighters worked for nearly six hours to finally bring the blaze under control, at about 7:57 a.m.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Along with New York Style Eats, the damaged businesses include Sidetracks Restaurant, one of the neighborhood’s most popular eateries, Zen Yai Noodles & Coffee, The Romantic Depot and The UPS Store.
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted about the fire Thursday morning and expressed relief that the firefighters caught in the backdraft weren’t seriously injured.
“The fire is out but several local businesses were badly damaged. Please use caution if you need to be in the area,” de Blasio wrote.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area, tweeted out an image of the charred buildings and expressed heartbreak over the incident.
“I’m on site of this devastating fire on Queens Boulevard in #Sunnyside,” Van Bramer said. “So many great businesses destroyed. Grateful that there was no loss of life. The @FDNY are amazing. Their bravery unparalleled. We will help all to rebuild.”