A massive fire overtook Vleigh Place in Kew Gardens Hills, New York around 6:30pm this past Friday. As of Saturday, the fire was under control, but a total of 14 stores were affected.
Unfortunately, this means the store owners of those 14 stores will have to close their businesses. "The building that housed a row of businesses was condemned Saturday following [the] five-alarm fire."
Photos of the aftermath show broken windows, ashen storefronts, and VACATE signs in bright red letters. New York's Department of Buildings instructed business owners to grab what they could before the building was seized for investigation on Saturday.
Kew Gardens building now condemned by DOB. All store owners retrieving belongings told to get out. pic.twitter.com/bhCaW91807— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) December 31, 2016
Sadly, some owners were hit a little harder by the loss than others.
"A lot of the stuff, hard drives that aren't backed up. You don't plan for this sometimes until it's too late. And I've been saying it over and over, let's back things up a little more," said John Macropoulos, who had a law office in the building.
Macropoulos had just left the building before the fire started, and says he "smelled something familiar." Many of us are not strangers to the smell of smoke or gas.
"It had an electrical burning smell but we looked everywhere and couldn't see smoke, didn't see fire," he said. "But we've smelled that before, because people have been working in the building, working downstairs so we paid it no mind. Then 10 minutes later we got a phone call."
Another building tenant, Victor Borukhov, told ABC 7 News the entire building is now "in water" and they will have to "take the towers and rebuild." Losing their businesses is just the beginning. If information has not been backed up on external drives or offsite, giving that information to the bank or the IRS will be a lot harder.
The building stood on a New York block that has "withstood generations" of change. Even though firefighters arrived within three minutes, they were no match for the rapidly spreading flames. The common roof of the building, they say, was to blame for the fire's speed. Three firefighters were hurt while putting out the blaze -- but nothing too serious.
"Once the fire gets into these concealed spaces up above the roof, it's almost impossible for us to put it out. We have to worry about the safety of our firefighters," said Chief of Department James Leonard, FDNY.
While New York authorities are certain about the spread of the fire, they are still not sure how it began.