Nearly 140 firefighters spent hours trying to get the fire under control, officials said. The fire reached 4 alarms before being declared under control around 7:00 a.m.
The fire badly damaged the Miron and Sons Linens building on Ryawa Avenue in the Hunts Point section.
The flames were first reported around 3:00 a.m.
Firefighters faced additional dangers from chemicals like chlorine and peroxide, posing a risk for explosions. The fire burned for hours.
"It appears to be gas fed there was large gas mains in there that somehow caught fire,"Deputy Asst. Chief Joe Woznica said.
A dozen firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.
The fire means a lot of frustration for the 100 or so employees who watched as their means for a paycheck burned away.
Just as firefighters decided to leave the building to fight the flames only from the outside, much of the roof collapsed.
As firefighters rushed to safety, they learned they weren't alone. A small cat followed them out, providing a tiny bright spot on a devastating day.
"This little fellow came running out the same door that we ourselves were coming out of, so sometimes it's the little things that brighten your day," Battalion Chief Tom McKiernay said.
Miron and Sons opened as a Laundromat in 1982 and began serving the hospitality industry in 1986. The building is described as a 42,000 square foot state of the art facility on the company's website.
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