Multi-alarm fire destroys several stores in Harlem; 1 firefighter hurt

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Businesses are picking up the pieces after a massive fire tore through a row of stores in Harlem early Wednesday morning.

The five-alarm fire broke out in a store on Lenox Avenue just after 3 a.m. and spread to others in the large, one-story building.

Nine hours after flames roared through a row of storefronts on Lenox Avenue, firefighters and investigators combed through the charred remains in a search for clues as to what started the blaze.

It took more than four hours and nearly 200 firefighters and emergency personnel to bring the fire under control.

Among the business owners left wondering what's next is Dong Kim. His fish market of 35 years suffered minimal damage, but the lack of power and electricity means everything in his store will soon end up in the garbage.

"We can't do anything at all. A fire is a fire. What am I going to do? Just waiting for the building department and the safety issue and then whatever goes, I have to follow the rules," Kim said.

Alex Torribio and Youssouf Diallo sat helpless on the sidewalk. They each spent the last 10 years working at a sneaker store.

On Wednesday morning, they just tried to keep things in perspective.

"That's my job, but it is what it is," Torribio said.

"Damage can be fixed thankfully. Our business hasn't been really damaged as much as other businesses, just water. A little small potatoes, but at least we're here," Diallo said.



One firefighter was treated for a minor injury at Harlem Hospital.

No other injuries were reported.

The fast-moving fire is the second one in two days that sent a string of businesses up in flames.

Tuesday in the Bronx, another fire wiped out numerous businesses, all of them neighborhood fixtures at 238th Street and Bailey in Kingsbridge.

Despite many of New York's Bravest calling out sick or not working because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the fire response times are 'fine' says the FDNY Commissioner, who added the fire Wednesday was put out - "expeditiously."

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