Nearly 400 FDNYers Battle 4- and 5-Alarm Fires in Brooklyn, Manhattan Wednesday

The raging blaze in Brooklyn came on the heels of a five-alarm fire at a commercial building in Harlem earlier Wednesday

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A total of nearly 400 FDNY members, including firefighters and EMS, were battling four- and five-alarm blazes in Brooklyn and Manhattan early Wednesday, officials said. No serious injuries have been reported in either case.

The Brooklyn fire erupted in Flatbush, on Lenox Road, just before 11 a.m. It escalated to four alarms less than 15 minutes after that, and sent dark smoke billowing over the neighborhood.

Firefighters were still on the scene, which was described as "active" an hour later. The cause of the fire wasn't known, and was under control in about two hours. FDNY Chief of Department Thomas Richardson said construction work was being done on the roof, but it was too early to know if that was a factor.

The fire broke out on the top floor of a seven-story building that's home to U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke's district office, which is located on the building's ground floor and didn't suffer any damage.

“Unfortunately, some people in the building did lose things and we are staying on top of developments,” said Jeanette Lenoir, a spokesperson for the Democratic lawmaker.

Richardson said the fire department's response was not impacted by staffing issues related to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers. A fire company that was relocated to a nearby firehouse to cover staffing shortfalls responded in place of one unit that was out of service, he said.

Firefighters arrived at the scene within four minutes, Richardson said, far quicker than the FDNY’s average for structure fires. However, officials said a car parked in front of a fire hydrant caused a delay in firefighters getting water on the fire.

The Brooklyn fire came on the heels of another raging blaze, one that escalated to five alarms, on Lenox Avenue in Harlem earlier Wednesday.

Although the fire that broke out in Manhattan was under control as of noon Wednesday (it was declared under control around 7:30 a.m., the FDNY said), businesses that were staples in Harlem are now gone.

This fire erupted on Lennox Avenue near West 135th Street at around 3 a.m., not too far from Harlem Hospital. The massive blaze started off as a cockloft fire -- a fire that starts in the void space between the ceiling and the roofing.

The sheer volume of fire required the FDNY to signal a five alarm that brought nearly 250 firefighters and EMS personnel to the scene. Units responded in mere minutes and found heavy smoke and fire through the roof of a row of businesses.

"Units responded within four minutes and found heavy smoke and fire through the roof of this building," FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief John Sarrocco said. "The fire continued to extend in the cockloft area which is the space between the top floor ceiling and the roof, through six stores. Due to concerns about stability of the building and that large volume of fire, we had to pull our units out."

Chopper 4 was over the scene for much of the morning as the fire crews in tower ladders worked to extinguish the flames, putting as much water on the fire as possible, but was still smoldering this morning.

One firefighter was transported to nearby Harlem Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

About six to seven commercial businesses were destroyed due to the flames and water damage, including a furniture store and Manna's, a local restaurant staple specializing in soul food that has been around since 1982.

It's the second fire in three years for Manna's. A fire gutted the restaurant's basement in 2019.

A cause for the fire had not yet been determined.

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