Winds Drive Large Fire Inside Queens Building

The building in Jackson Heights houses a college

Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014  |  Updated 8:48 AM EDT
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    5-Alarm Fire at Jackson Heights Office Building

    Flames shot out the windows as firefighters tried to put them out. Checkey Beckford reports.

    Jackson Heights Fire

    Flames engulf a building in Jackson Heights Monday evening.
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    Three people, including a firefighter and a child, were hurt when a five-alarm blaze tore through two floors of a commercial building near a subway line and expressway in a busy Queens neighborhood Monday evening, authorities say.

    Flames and plumes of black smoke shot through windows at the Bruson building on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights as the fire, which broke out about 6 p.m, lapped through the third and fourth floors. Crews brought the blaze under control by about 11:40 p.m.

    An employee at an orthodontics office inside the building said people inside panicked when they saw the flames. 

    "We could literally see it coming down the hall," said Juliette Esquea.

    The staff was able to get patients out "in the nick of time, because then that side of the building was engulfed in fire," she said. "It was just horrible." 

    It's not clear how many people were inside the building when the fire started. 

    Officials said winds drove flames to the north side, then back south. More than 170 firefighters responded.

    One firefighter had minor injuries and a child from an adjacent building was being evaluated for breathing problems. A third minor injury was also reported but officials did not immediately give details. 

    The four-story, 40-unit mixed-use building houses the Plaza Business Institute school and several businesses, including office and medical space. It is near the Roosevelt Avenue subway stop and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

    It's not clear what sparked the blaze. 

    -- Checkey Beckford contributed to this report. 

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