Sunday, February 14, 2010
Unhappy Valentine's Day in Jackson Heights
From Eyewitness News:
Firefighters are back on the scene Sunday after a row of stores in Queens was destroyed in a major fire.
Firefighters returned to put out some hotspots that sprang up overnight. They continue to monitor the scene in case of any others.
The row of mom-and-pop stores stayed in business for decades. The inferno wiped them out in mere minutes.
More than a dozen small businesses are now gone, including a barbershop, a furniture store, a shoe maker.
Shopkeepers were forced to abandon their businesses, their livelihoods now little more than burned out shells.
"He came, he pulled me by the neck, he said, 'Get the hell out of here, there's a fire!'" Tom's Shoe Repair owner Thomas Kourakos said. "Within 10 seconds, the whole shop was full of smoke."
The flames were so intense that rescuers evacuated 100 people from the apartment building next door as nearly 300 firefighters battled the blaze. But there was nothing they could do to save the row of stores, which withstood the passage of time, but could not survive this.
"It's devastating," Jackson Heights resident Kate Schaffer said. "These businesses have been here for a long time. The area is changing rapidly. And to see something devastated not by developers, but by fire is more troubling."