The fire broke out on the first floor of the building on Main Street in Flushing just before 6:10 a.m. on Thursday.
Hours later, the building collapsed. Two neighboring businesses sustained severe damage.
The building where the fire started housed more than 30 kiosks selling clothing and other goods.
"It's heartbreaking because I come here everyday. I work around this area. I just can't believe it," Dianne Carpen said.
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As the flames raced through the building, the ceiling and the roof of the building partially collapsed.
FDNY Acting Chief of Operations Richard Blatus said crews would remain on the scene for hours putting out hot spots.
"We will be here for most of the day, if not into the night," he said. "Once the fire is completely extinguished, we will have (Department of Buildings) evaluate the structure and see what kind of searches we can undertake."
Some 200 firefighters responded to fight the flames. At least 3 suffered injuries.
The thick black smoke not only rose into the sky but seeped below ground inside the subway station halting 7 train service at the height of the morning commute.
While no civilians were injured, small business owners who worked out of the building have been impacted along with neighboring businesses that sustained water damage.
Councilwoman Sandra Ung arrived on the scene in search of those owners.
"I am hoping on my end to work with New York city. especially SBA, so they can inspect what's going on and help the small businesses," Ung said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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