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Fire Engulfs Roof of East Village Building

By Patrick Hedlund | July 8, 2010 7:46pm | Updated on July 9, 2010 10:08am

By Ben Fractenberg and Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo Staff

EAST VILLAGE — A four-alarm fire engulfed the roof of a residential building at the corner of Houston Street and Avenue A Thursday afternoon, fire officials said.

Eight firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the blaze, which began around 5:30 p.m., the FDNY said.

The fire torched the roofs of four connected five-story buildings at 240 E. Houston St., sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air.

Traffic was closed in both directions on Houston Street as fire crews continued to extinguish the blaze around 7 p.m.

The fire was brought under control around 7:45 p.m., the FDNY said.

It was not clear if the blaze started on the top floor or the roof of the building, fire officials added. A cause was still not known as of Friday morning.

A worker at a restaurant across from the burning building said the blaze originated on the southeast corner of the roof and burned for about 45 minutes before a small explosion spread flames over the entire rooftop.

"It spread really quickly," said Parvez Ahmad, 25, an employee at Munchies on Essex Street just south of Houston Street.

Nicole Lynch lives directly across the street from the building on Avenue A and came outside to see if anyone was hurt.

“I have friends in that building,” she said. “It’s your neighborhood.”

Stefanie Smentek, 29, lives on the fourth floor of the building and was coming home around 5:45 p.m. when she saw the fire.

She said firefighters on the scene went in to rescue her nine-year-old Boston terrier, Oreo, when she asked for help finding him.

“Everything just started going through my mind,” Smentek said. “I was freaking out.”