Dec. 13, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A massive five-alarm fire broke out early this morning that spread through multiple Sunnyside businesses between 45th and 46th Streets along Queens Boulevard.
The fire broke out at around 2:14 a.m at 45-02 Queens Blvd., where New York Style Eats is located, authorities say.
FDNY Assistant Chief Anthony DeVita said firefighters responded within four minutes to the scene, where they found fire in the restaurant that had extended to adjoining businesses.
The fire eventually spread through the single block made up of businesses like Sidetracks, Zen Yai, UPS, Romantic Depot and the hardware store on 45th Street.
All of the six stores, which are connected, are completely destroyed as a result of the flames.
Authorities, additionally, say 12 people have been injured so far. Of the group, seven are firefighters and five are civilians.
James Booth, FDNY Chief of EMS, said the injuries occurred after a collapse at the scene.
Video taken at the scene shows a large explosion ripping through the businesses, which authorities say likely originated at the area where New York Style Eats connects to UPS/Zen Yai.
The FDNY believes the building collapse here was the result of a backdraft or a smoke explosion, which worked to exacerbate the fire.
About a dozen firefighters were inside the restaurant at the time of the collapse, authorities said.
The victims have all been taken to area hospitals, however, with non life-threatening injuries.
The lots adjacent to the affected building, consisting of businesses stretching from Alpha Donuts, KMIA Salon, Pets Unlimited and Baby Blue on Greenpoint Avenue, have not been impacted by the flames.
The residential buildings on 45th Street, meanwhile, are being protected by FDNY, and the fire has not reached the homes.
Hundreds of firefighters were still battling the flames hours after the fire started, even at press time, with high-powered hoses aimed at smaller fires within the Queens Boulevard storefronts from street level and above.
The FDNY said 198 firefighters so far have responded to the scene.
The fire was at last put under control just before 8 a.m. Authorities, however, said they expect firefighters to be at the site for the better part of the day.
Queens Boulevard, meanwhile, continues to be shut to traffic in both directions from 43rd Street to 48th Streets as of 11 a.m.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Some business owners and employees from the block looked upon the charred remains of their stores with deep sorrow from under the 7 train viaduct this morning.
Mark Stroubus, the owner of New York Style Eats, wept as he was consoled by several people.
Other local business leaders, including Jaime-Faye Bean of the Sunnyside Shines BID and Melissa Orlando of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, were at the scene.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who visited the location just after 8 a.m., said on social media that Sunnyside is hurting today, and that help will be available to aid the small business owners.
Sunnyside Shines also said it is helping to connect business owner to assistance, and that they have been in contact with the city’s Small Business Service’s emergency response team.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also tweeted about the incident, and commended the FDNY for their fire fighting efforts especially after the explosion that sent seven members to the hospital.
The early morning fire obliterated the structure, built in 1931, and took with it six young and longtime businesses.
Zen Yai, a Vietnamese restaurant specializing in pho, opened in 2017 and is owned by Bryan Chunton, a Woodside resident. The UPS store next door, meanwhile, is owned by Tony Tang, who received the Luke Adams Sunnysider of the Year award in January.
Romantic Depot, the lingerie and toy shop which took over the corner site once home to Radio Shack, had just opened in late October. The hardware store next to it, known currently as Better Line Hardware, had gone through several name changes over its long run on 45th Street.
Sidetracks, the Irish bar and restaurant, had been standing at the Queens Boulevard site for more than 30 years, and had gone through significant changes over the years, including renovations just in 2017.
New York Style Eats had also been a longtime staple, and was one of a handful of diners in Sunnyside.
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.