More than 100 firefighters were dispatched to a hospital in Queens where a fire filled the clear blue skies with a thick black smoke.
The first fire crews rushed to St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway shortly after 5 p.m. for reports of a roof fire, according to an FDNY spokesperson. Flames could be seen shooting into the air for several hours.
Video and images of the buildings blaze quickly popped up on social media as the top of the hospital burned. Firefighters had to evacuate the entire 11th floor of the hospital, bringing dozens of patients and staff down to the parking lot. Most other patients and staff were able to shelter in place, while those in the emergency department were evacuated.
Officials said all emergency calls had to be diverted to other hospitals, some more than 45 minutes away.
Investigators believe the fire started on the roof, where Deputy Assistant Chief Fred Schaaf said work was being done. He would not say whether the work was connected to the fire, however, and an exact cause was still not clear.
Crews said only one firefighter suffered minor injuries, but given the proximity to the 9/11 anniversary, the chaotic scene worried a community already on edge.