The garage caught fire on East 226th Street in the Wakefield section around 6:25 a.m., spewing a large column of smoke that was visible from more than 20 miles away. The fire was finally brought under contol around 10 a.m., but pockets of fire and hot spots are still posing a threat.
Heavy flames shot out of the garage, and firefighters unsuccessfully battled to keep the fire from spreading to an adjacent commercial building that also houses apartments. In total, eight buildings caught fire, jumping from unpartitioned roof to unpartitioned roof.
Firefighters reportedly had trouble gaining access to the area, which allowed the fire to grow.
At least two cars were also engulfed.
Ten firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, as was one pedestrian, and Nos. 2 and 5 subway trains are still bypasssing the 225th Street station after service was suspended earlier.
The smoke was so thick that some schools relocated or dismissed students. Many area residents were walking around wearing masks over their mouths in an effort to filter it out.
The American Red Cross is on the scene and is still determining how many people may have been displaced, but as many as two dozen apartments may have experienced damage. The Red Cross is prepared to provide shelter and comfort for those affected.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.