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Massive Fire Destroys Sunnyside Businesses, 12 Injured

The aftermath of a massive fire that destroyed six businesses on Queens Boulevard between 45th and 46th Streets on Dec. 13 (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

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.

Firefighters battling the flames at the block of businesses between 45th and 46th Streets on Queens Boulevard just before 8:30 a.m. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

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.

Mark Stroubus, owner of New York Style Eats, at the scene of the five-alarm fire this morning. His business, along with five others, were destroyed. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

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.

Photo: Nathaly Pesantez

 

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70 Comments

Sal Blandino

They need to bring the UPS STORE back though. It’s important gor it to be there for the Sunnyside residents. It not acceptable to not bring it back and force Sunnyside residents to have to go far out of the area to get their packages and mail. Totally unacceptable

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A Woodsider

Will miss New York Eats. Hope they rebuild or relocate soon. I have eaten there many, many times since they opened. Stay hopeful all! Hope to see this area”rise from the ashes”. Thank you NYFD! Great job as usual.

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Mrs garrett

I doubt the people who love the bike lanes actually care about prople who work for a living

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#NOTANNDARBY

I seriously doubt that the Transportation Alternatives group and their followers even know people who work for a living.

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Mrs. Garrett

There are empty stores on 43rd Avenue: I hope a couple of the stores that were destroyed on Queens Boulevard consider relocating there. I don’t think I would wait for the street to be rebuilt – I would try to relocate ASAP. I liked Side Tracks and there has to be an empty area nearby that they could relocate to.

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lamarde

Sad to see a fire destroying a great block .Except for the Depot on the corner- have no idea why they did that but “easy come” (lol )and easy go ,
Sidetracks was a great place ! . Please rebuild.

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Sal Blandino

They should try to bring the UPS STORE back instead of thinking about apartments. That UPS STORE is important for the Sunnyside residents of the neighborhood to have so they don’t have to go far and out of their way to carry heavy packages and pick up their mail.

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Anonymous

I am sure that the UPS store will reopen. Its a franchise. Plus any apartment building on Queens Blvd will have ground floor retail.

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AnnaBNana

I feel bad for all those affected by the fire and loss of their businesses. Some of these folks are, for me, what makes Sunnyside a ‘neighborhood,’ not an anonymous block of condos. I have eaten at Sidetracks many times, celebrated events there. I always enjoyed my visits to the UPS store, to use their copiers, as my printer no longer works. Those folks are friendly and hard-working, and I will miss them, hopefully, only until they can rebuild, if they are thinking of doing so. I was planning to go there today with some stuff to print out. We usually have a laugh at my pronunciation of Thai words. I will miss them, not just for the convenience, until I can figure out my tech issues, but because they are nice folks, and I hope they return. Tony, sawadee-ka (hello). This is not ‘mai pen rai’ – which means ‘never mind,’ their way of saying ‘no worries…’ I am hoping that the community has your back and that you can get what you need to rebuild, better than ever! AnnaBNana

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Heartbroken in Sunnyside

Its really a sad day in Sunnyside.
I have live here my whole life. I am heartbroken this has happened to all these hard working mom and pop places. My heart goes out to all the long time and short time business owners. These are the places that have made Sunnyside what it is.. All the small businesses!!!
Between all the developers (Who only care about themselves and $$ Not about Us and Sunnyside) buying things up, closing them down or tearing them down and then abandoning them and now we have this fire. Sunnyside is losing its charm. I am saddened to see this all happen in such a short amount of time.
The only thing I am grateful for is no human or animal lives were lost, but sad to see we are losing Our Sunnyside. Thank you to the NY Firefighter, the bravest men around! Still I remain heartbroken.

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Sunnysideposthatesme

Why would people thumb this comment down. One word = COMPLIANT !!!
bunch of damn criminals all over Sunnyside. This was a mob hit for sure, Sunnyside is ran by the Romanians or Muslims. This is not a racist comment but fact if you just pay attention to the activity at night and who runs things on both sides of the neighborhoods.

or you can continue to be ignorant

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Critic Al

Ruben Sammich! Your insight is outa sight! I thought you were moving? Let’s see a few sources on your claim.

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suspicious

There are some circumstantial red flags…

Amazon movin in nearby -> real estate prices goin up + single owner + get out of leases = ?

might want to look into this one underwriters

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fdasga

The bank and movie theater are being sat on while they wait for some tax credit to be renewed by Albany.

I believe it’s the same deal in the lot next to Tmobile.

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Luna

I’ve read a lot of comments about worries of an apartment building or condo going up but I just can’t see it.

The full area of all the buildings affected (assuming all the business owners are unable to rebuild) make a very awkward and narrow shape, difficult to build something to any kind of shape. This is because the businesses that were there are all different sizes and lengths.

If a building WERE to be built it would be a very narrow building filled with nothing but studio apartments spanning one or two rental units per floor.

Unlike the fire years ago in 2003 when a grease fire caused Blooms to catch fire and take a whole corner with it and left a square shaped lot left behind. Somewhat easy to develop and build an apartment and the CVS into as there was fear of nearby buildings becoming unstable when digging the buildings underground parking garage.

I’m hoping as many of these business owners as possible can rebuild, and if not are able to relocate somewhere else in the area.

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I like CVSs mile long receipts but...

the Blooms fire was heartbreaking (where CVS now stands). On that one block you had the most beautiful authentic Irish pub BLOOMS, the original Butchers Block and a new place called The Chipper (Fish and Chips) where Dunkin Donuts is now.

One block and three great Irish places.

Blooms owners then re-opened in Manhattan around 31st St and glad to see Butchers Block is now about to expand into the spot next to Burger King.

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UPS Store Customers

Anyone who had packages at the UPS Store or currently have packages en route – NBC NY’s article about the fire stated:

“A spokesperson for UPS said customers who have a mailbox at the UPS store that burned down should contact the UPS store on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City to pick up their mail or file claims”

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Hank the Great

Thanks been looking for this info. Hope UPOS Store re-opens here in Sunnyside I absolutely LOVED the staff!

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YourFriendlyNeighborhoodSunnysider

I’m sad that this happened, it sucks. NYSE really meant a lot to me. I used to buy food there at least once a week and it was pretty much the go to place for my friends/family for special events or just to spend time together. I hope these businesses are able to come back and that the space isn’t used for expensive apartments.

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jakenoname

Too bad. Land owners will want max dollar.
Expect high rises – especially with amazon on the horizon – and store fronts with exorbitant rents below. No way NY style eats or the UPS store returns to that location.

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JVB really, not here

And van bramer managed to get his empty head in a photo shot this morning with the back drop of the disaster. as if he had any purpose in the response. it could have been an accident and maybe it was not, truth is we will never know.But what we can be certain is, that it will be replaced with a nice new shiny tall building just like the boulevard was rezoned for back a few years ago.

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Lionel Q Deveraux

I too see a nice six story apartment building on this lot.
Guess DeBlasio and Melinda Katz were too busy celebrating their Amazon victory to bother to stop by..

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Gerald

Notice how many fires there are as soon as it gets cold out? Every year it’s the same thing. It never gets better, every year more and more fires. Wish there could be more attention placed towards this pattern!

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Elsiesdotter

That fire was in August, 2003, if you are referring to where CVS is located. Very sad. Prayers for the store owners. Does anyone know who owns that block of buildings?

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Branagh

So sad! Is there a plan to incinerate every small business in Sunnyide? One post mentioned the lovely old pub, Blooms on 41st/Qns Blvd, then PJ Horgans. Blooms brought a bit of culture, poetry readings, multi-cultural events, music. After the fire, we got one more CVS drugstore and condos! Sunnyside is a cultural desert now, not even a bookstore, not even a session of Irish traditional music. There’s only Thalia for Latin/Mexican culture but tickets $35-45. The wait won’t be long before the Trumps, Larry Silversteins (immense profiteer from 9/11), the Kushner clones move in and demolish everything aided by many incentives, tax breaks, destroy, displace and profit. It took decades to act on the pedestrian carnage on Queens Blvd. Why hasn’t there been an emergency plan to deal with the calamitous fire risk situations throughout NYC and especially in Sunnyside?

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NotedHeathen

Zen Yai!!!! No, that was my favorite place in all of Sunnyside! I can’t believe this. I’m so, so heartbroken.

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NY

Our primary arson suspects are all the angry pearl-clutching Sunnyside Post commenters from the article about the Radio Shack Sex Shop.

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Moluv4nyc

The UPS store is much needed and the owners and staff are fantastic. They provide necessary services to this area – especially this time of year. Very sorry for all the business losses. Shocked.

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Sal Blandino

Hope they build it back. This my local ups store that’s in walking distance from my house. Every other one is out of walking distance andvI have to take transportation to them and with heavy packages sometimes don’t want this inconvenience for good

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AbyRock

Nothing suspicious about a fire on prime real estate along queens blvd – that was rezoned for high-rises.

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suss

and amazon moving in nearby, rents goin up, and I heard a simgle owner owned that building, late night fire to minimize injury, connect the dots people

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Sunnyside_gurl

I am so saddened to hear this. Besides the RadioShack replacement, the other guys seemed like a semi-permanent fixture. Wow. Just wow.

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Portia Potty

Zen Yai was a delicious place and I was looking forward to getting a new strap-on at RadioShack. The UPS store was good too. Hopefully Sidetracks will come back with a better menu. Like the phoenix, it will rise back!

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Ruben Camacho

So..I’ve been a Sunnyside Resident all my life. let’s look at the history.

This fire happened in 2001.
http://m.qchron.com/mobile/editions/western/queens-blvd-fire-gets-citywide-attention-demoralizes-sunnyside/article_cc6b14fb-a41d-52b9-b9a4-2ffe67c2bf44.html?fbclid=IwAR0QLQiLi3sd1keJKAgbSC-g9QwpuY22idkjsKBxoLk5rVt2oawuDNCjdFg

This fire happened in 2003
https://www.firehouse.com/home/news/10535165/queens-new-york-blaze-devastates-block?fbclid=IwAR3YicMLChgoZJ1-pmptPhJ_JjGZWssCARLCWz56U05MoUahlqkJ5w9-ZhI

and now we have another string of stores on the SAME side of the boulevard on fire and destroyed. ( I won’t even get to when a string of Car Fires was a thing )

I have been saying for years Sunnyside is ran by a Mob. Nobody can say these 3 major fires on the same side of a street is a coincidence. Unless you’re truly ignorant or part of the problem.

A damn shame, All the push to make Sunnyside a “place to be” , When Sunnyside has lost SO much of what made it unique to live in while real estates pump the news with articles in an effort to raise the rents (which they did). The theater and that corner…GONE. South Pole…Gone.. the pharmacy on 40th. Gone for years, the lot next to Starbucks, gone for years, the string of store fronts by 39th, Gone. Salt and Fat restaurant ,GONE. Supermarket on 40th, GONE. Either Sunnyside is quietly being invaded or we’re becoming what I call “Detroited”.

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Gardens Watcher

So if you’re a lifelong Sunnyside resident, you would know that the 2001 fire at Dae Dong was on the north side of QB, and the 2003 fire at Blooms was on the south side. I’ll assume both were kitchen fires, which is a common reason for fires in restaurants. Plus those fires happened over 15 years ago.

Until the cause of this fire is determined, it’s only pure speculation and conspiracy theory on your part that there is a pattern here, or a mob connection. Also, there are a lot more surveillance cameras watching everything now than there were 15 years ago. And smartphones everywhere too.

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Roxy

Heard this described on radio news as a “strip mall,”
which is not true. Thank God the fire didn’t reach the pet store just around the corner on 46th Street, where scores of dogs, cats, and birds are kept in cages awaiting buyers.

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sparkleplenty

Another loss for Sunnyside. Hope our local leaders do whatever they can to help these business get back on their feet and back in our community.

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Cult of Bezothulhu

Amazon announces arrival and then stores close or burn down a few weeks later. Sounds fishy.

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Gardens Watcher

God bless the FDNY. They kept this from spreading and causing further damage or loss of life.

Such a tragic loss for Sunnyside and a reminder to all of the risks of owning a business.

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Patricio Anibal Cisneros

Deeply sorry about the restaurant, I knew the owner long time friend and his staff of good people so sorry….

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Andrew

So unfortunate. It is a true loss for the community. And it will probably take eons for anything to rebuild. My heart goes out to all those truly impacted.

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Sunnyside Lurker

Only if Eons means “right away”. This is the best thing that could have happened to the property owners. In one fell swoop all the tenants were evicted and the structures leveled. They will almost certainly build a tall residential building on the block with hopefully storefronts offered to the old business owners (except maybe “Romantic Radio Shack”)

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Onesadpuppy

I still didn’t get to use my 20% off at the sex shop. R.i.p that whole strip hope no one was hurt

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Gardens Watcher

Is there no love in your heart? Or do you just need to be the snarky poster on every story? These new business owners just lost their store that they put their heart and soul into, in addition to major bucks. Have some restraint pal. Your sarcasm is getting old and this time is outta line.

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OldtimeSunnysider

Well that’s one way to get rid of a store you don’t approve of…goodbye romance

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Lionel q deveraux

Did not know new stores had to be approved by anyone. Last I heard, we still live in a free society. Has Trump gone and done something overnight that I am not aware of?

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Barbara

This is awful. Just awful. Such bad luck. Same thing happened with the lovely bar Blooms on Queen’s Blvd about 15/20 years ago when a fire happened in an adjoining restaurant. I hope all the injured people recover and just glad no fatalities. Feel so bad for the business owners and our neighborhood.

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1017

Remember Blooms well, back in 2001/02 I think. Also, JJ Gilligans, another fine bar, on 46th, burned down around the same time….hope all those hurt are out of hospital asap

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