LINCOLN SQUARE — A restaurant fire broke out in a two-story building blocks away from Lincoln Center Thursday morning, sending up a massive column of smoke, witnesses and fire officials said.
"It was scary," said Nick Kercu, a porter at nearby 1995 Broadway who was on a seventh-floor patio when he saw the fire suddenly flare up.
"It was just like that," he added, snapping his fingers. "We saw the smoke. It was coming out of the ductwork near Ollie's."
The blaze quickly seeped into the restaurant's ductwork, shooting plumes of smoke out from the noodle shop, fire officials said.
Kercu, who called the Fire Department, said he and fellow workers helped evacuate scores of people from the 18-story building.
Firefighters arrived on the scene and quickly extinguished it about 45 minutes later.
No one was injured, fire officials said.
Dong Chen, Ollie's assistant manager, said he wasn't there when the blaze started and was blindsided when it sparked.
"I don't know what happened," Chen said.
The restaurant will be closed indefinitely, Chen added.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
Joe Parziale contributed to this story.