Huge Brooklyn Fire Engulfs Store, Snarls Traffic; 1 Dead, 9 Hurt

A 46-year-old man was killed and nine others were injured in a five-alarm blaze that engulfed a hardware store early Wednesday, fire officials said.

The FDNY says the fire broke out at about 3:30 a.m. at the hardware store that sits below a set of apartments at Flatbush and St. Marks avenues in Prospect Heights.

Bassam Awad died in the blaze, which authorities ruled an accident caused by electrical wiring of neon light in front of the store. Three other people were critically injured, three had minor injuries and two police officers had smoke inhalation.

Authorities say that the three people critically injured included a man in his late teens who suffered from smoke inhalation and a 60-year-old woman and another woman in her 90s. Both women were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Weill Cornell campus with serious burns.

The other victims were being treated at nearby hospitals for their injuries. 

Firefighters say that when they arrived at the scene, the hardware store was engulfed in flames and heavy smoke. 

The blaze quickly spread and caused structural damage to the apartments above. Firefighters evacuated the building, and then set up an exterior operation because pockets of fire made it unsafe for firefighters to go inside the structure.

The fire was knocked down at about 6 a.m., but firefighters said they would remain at the scene throughout the morning to extinguish any remaining hot spots.

Firefighters say that adjacent structures weren't damaged in the blaze. About 30 people were displaced by the fire.

Flatbush Avenue was closed from Prospect Place to Bergen Street as more than 175 firefighters from 39 units battled the flames.

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