Photo Credit: Google Earth

A five alarm fire ripped through the commercial section of Kew Garden Hills just after 6:30 pm Friday night, totally destroying at least 14 business establishments, many of them owned by Jews.

It took firefighters the entire night to get the blaze under control, and by dawn the following day, the row of businesses – some of them generations old – had gone up in smoke.

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Part of the reason the flames spread so fast had to do with the fact that the businesses shared a common roof. “Once the fire gets into these concealed spaces up above the roof, it’s almost impossible for us to put it out. We have to worry about the safety of our firefighters,” Chief of Department James Leonard, FDNY, told reporters.

The entire building has been condemned, according to ABC7 Eyewitness News. All store owners who came to retrieve their belonging were ordered to leave as soon as possible due to the risk involved in being inside the building.

Officials are still not clear about how the fire started.

Three first responders were injured while fighting the blaze.

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