Thick, oily black smoke blanketed the area around the Kings Plaza Shopping Mall in Brooklyn early Monday morning when a fire broke out on the second floor of the four-story parking garage. At least 21 people were injured in the seven-alarm blaze that rapidly developed at the site, which is popular with the Jewish community as well as other Brooklynites for its name-brand stores and its bargains.
Eighteen of the injured were firefighters who suffered mostly from smoke inhalation. Three civilians were hurt as well.
Multiple marine units were asked to fight the blaze from the water, because the low ceilings in the garage made it impossible for firefighting units to enter the structure to fight from inside.
“The black, toxic smoke, the heat, the limited area firefighters had to work in all made it very difficult to quickly extinguish the fire,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters at the site, according to the New York Post.
He said that as many as 120 cars were being stored in the garage by local car dealerships. Many were involved in the fire, he added, “creating a huge amount of black smoke.”
Citizens were advised to stay away from the area; those who lived or worked nearby were ordered to stay indoors if at all possible, because fumes “may be toxic.”
More than 50 firefighting units and some 200 firefighters battled the blaze until finally extinguishing it after 11 am.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.