Early reports suggested the 10 a.m. fire started inside Acme Furniture, located at 84-09 37th Avenue.
But hours later, as the firefighting effort continued, an FDNY Deputy Chief, John Malkin, told the Queens Ledger the fire might have started elsewhere in the row of small businesses that line the north side of 37th Avenue between 84th and 85th streets.
“I'm not absolutely sure that's where it started,” Malkin said, referring to the furniture store.
He said the origin and cause of the fire are under investigation. Some 45 engine and ladder companies were called to the scene, Malkin said, the first arriving in just over three minutes.
He said firefighters sustained 15 minor injuries in the blaze, but no one else appeared to be hurt. “So far, no civilians [were injured]” Malkin said.
In addition to Acme Furniture several other business were destroyed in the fire, including a liquor store and shoe repair shop. Firefighters hosed them down into the early evening, as a crowd of spectators looked on.
Small business owners across the street from the fire described a chaotic day of smoke and flames.
“At first we didn't really know it was spreading,” said Lisa Randazzo, the owner of Shear Success, a hair salon across 37th Avenue from the burned-down furniture store.
Soon, however, smoke from the fire filled the entire block.
“We had to keep our doors locked and put towels under the door,” said Randazzo. “It was bad.”
Farley Arriaga, the owner of a financial services company across the street and the accountant for Acme Furniture, said the FDNY's rapid response stopped the fire from spreading even further.
“They couldn't have gotten here faster,” he said. (Daniel Bush)