After a Thursday fire damaged an entire block in the Wakefield section of the Bronx that contained a storefront mosque and at least 10 businesses, locals were concerned over how long it would take for the area to recover. Borough reporter Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Charred storefronts are all that remain after a Thursday fire swept through a block of White Plains Road, between East 225th and 226th Streets.
"Oh my. This is not good for the neighborhood. A lot of people are going to be out of work," said Herbert Whitley, a Wakefield resident.
More than a handful of businesses were destroyed, including the Bronx Mini Mall store. Its owner, Zaid Nagi, said seven years of his life went up in smoke.
"What are we going to do? How are we going to meet our obligations, companies, payments?" Nagi said.
As the fire department worked to salvage what was left of these businesses and extinguish the remaining flames, hundreds lined the streets. Many said they were astonished at the loss of retail they said anchored the community.
"We depend on the businesses around here and it's going to be a great loss," said Stephen Harris, a neighbor. "We are really lost without those businesses. Now we have to go elsewhere or depend on other couriers and other businesses and they're a little stretch away."
The tenants of the burned-down buildings, including the leaders of Masjid al-Huda, a storefront mosque damaged in the fire, said these spaces are so important to the community that there is no doubt they will be back.
"What we do is rebuild it back. The community will have to come together and we have to rebuild back," said mosque leader Bilal Ahmed.
"This is a very strong community and we're going to come back from this," Harris said.
Friday is the day of prayer for the Muslim community and Ahmed told NY1 he expects 600 to 800 people to come out. He was not sure where worshippers will go for now, but wherever they end up, he said the group will be praying for the recovery of the neighborhood and all those affected by the fire.