Updated 08/20/2012 10:56 PM
FDNY Probes Cause Of Queens Three Alarm Fire
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Fire marshals are trying to figure out what caused an early Monday morning fire at a Queens building.
The New York City Fire Department says flames broke out around 3 a.m. on the ground floor of a three-story building located at 143-05 45th Avenue in Flushing.
Investigators believe the fire started in a laundromat on the first floor and quickly tore through an Indian grocery store and restaurant alongside it.
Fire crews managed to bring the flames under control by 5:30 a.m.
"We were pulling people off the fire escape, the side window, the rear windows; they were coming out all over. So the building was heavily occupied," said FDNY Chief Kevin Duffy.
"I tried to turn on the light to see and I couldn't see anything, it was so smoky," said one resident. "So I had to hold my breath all the way from the first floor to downstairs. I just put my hand like this and I walk all the way out. I run in my underwear and I call 911 and I was yelling other people to get out from the other building, and it was crazy. It was like the whole building was in flames."
The building's four apartments suffered heavy damage.
Some residents said there were no working smoke detectors in the building. However, the building's landlord who spoke with NY1 at the scene insisted there was an alarm.
"I cannot say I'm a perfect landlord but 24 hours, seven days a week always here.
I live here," said Building Landlord Chi-sei Han.
The fire department says 19 firefighters suffered minor injuries and two residents were treated for smoke inhalation.
All were taken to local hospitals.
Both business owners say they have insurance and will rebuild, but are worried about how long the process will take.
The owner of the grocery store tells NY1 he supports his entire family and now has no
money coming in.