12 Injured, 6 Businesses Destroyed In 'Devastating' Sunnyside Fire

December 13, 2018 - 9:24 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Firefighters battled a massive fire in Sunnyside, Queens early Thursday morning.

The 5-alarm blaze broke out around 2:15 a.m. Thursday and gutted several stores, including the popular Sidetracks restaurant on Queens Boulevard and 45th Street, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

Firefighters arrived within four minutes of the 911 call but Assistant Fire Chief Anthony De Vita said they couldn't contain the fire.

"A lot of these buildings are, we call them non-fire proof, there's lumber up in the roofspace so there's a lot of fuel, the age of the building, concealed spaces, voids," De Vita said.

The fire quickly spread from the restaurant consuming a UPS store, diner and hardware store. Six businesses in all were destroyed.

Several cars were also destroyed.

An explosion in the restaurant, that was captured on video by a witness, may have caused the roof to collapse. 

"With the amount of fire and heat and with the right amount of fuel and oxygen, sometimes you have a smoke explosion, a backdraft which is basically an instantaneous ignition," said Assistant Fire Chief Anthony De Vita.

All of the firefighters got out before the roof collapse. At least 12 people -- including 7 firefighters -- were sustained minor injuries.

The owner of Sidetracks was overcome with emotion as she looked at the charred remains of the restaurant.

"One of the bartenders was in there and, I can't, I'm sorry, we just renovated the place," the owner said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Elsewhere in Queens, firefighters responded to another fire at PS 160 in Jamaica Thursday.

The fire broke out around 6 a.m. and was out in less than an hour.

It appears the fire was contained to the roof.