Thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the air as 140 firefighters worked to the extinguish the three-alarm blaze Friday afternoon in Chinatown.
Debris and dilapidated souvenirs litter the street outside Fu Hao Gift Shop.
“I’m… I’m broken,” says Inamul Haque Bhuiyan, who is almost too heartbroken to speak after his gift shop went up in flames. “Very quickly, very quick. Less than one minute. I call 911 and then I come outside.”
What You Need To Know
- It took 140 firefighters more than two hours to extinguish the three-alarm blaze Friday afternoon
- Located on the second floor of the building is the Lin Sing Association, a Chinese-American organization which residents say offer support and housing to the elderly
- The American Red Cross has registered 35 adults and four children, and provided emergency housing to seven households
Bhuiyan opened the store a little over a year ago and now his entire livelihood has been reduced to rubble.
According to the FDNY, it took more than two hours to get the fire under control.
“They were met with heavy fire conditions,” said FDNY Assistant Chief Thomas Currao. “They had fire racing up the front of the building. Occupied building. Very, very challenging.”
Neighboring business owners recount the moment the building caught fire, as they watched in fear and disbelief.
“We heard a sound like an exploding sound inside but we didn’t know what was that,” said Shahadag Hossain, who works at a business a few doors down.
On the second floor of the building is the Lin Sing Association, a Chinese-American organization which residents say offer support and housing to the elderly.
As of Friday night, many of them are unable to return home.
According to the FDNY, 10 people suffered minor injuries, including two civilians and eight firefighters.
“It was really for the efforts of the firefighters that came in quickly, quickly got into the building that mitigated any loss of life,” said Currao.
The FDNY is working to determine the cause of the fire, but believe it started on the first floor.
The Red Cross said it’s providing emergency housing to seven households.