WAKEFIELD — Eleven buildings were scorched, ten firefighters hospitalized, and two subway lines halted in both directions when a massive blaze erupted within a Wakefield garage and roared on for nearly four hours, FDNY officials said.
About 200 firefighters raced to intersection of White Plains Road and East 226th Street where a small garage ringed by commercial and residential buildings burst into flames about 6:15 a.m., officials said.
"The whole garage was roaring when we got here," Chief Edward Kilduff said at the scene.
Two apartment buildings behind the flaming garage were evacuated once the firefighters arrived on the scene, Kilduff said. The inferno scorched those buildings, but those fires were quickly extinguished, an official said.
And at the same time, the flames tore into a row of commercial buildings with wooden roofs along White Plains Road between East 225th and 226th streets, Kilduff said.
"Once it got to the rear of the stores, it spread in both directions from the middle of the block to either corner," Kilduff said. "It just spread from one store to the next, from corner to corner.''
The main fire was brought under control about 9:44 a.m., but then the common roofing that had initially allowed the flames to spread re-ignited that evening about 10 p.m., officials said. That fire was brought under control 90 minutes later and no injuries were reported.
Managers of several of the businesses that were gutted stayed at the scene Thursday morning and looked at the wreckage in disbelief.
"I’m just worried about the people who work there. They have families to feed and bills to pay," said Adel Yafai who manages three stores in the row. "I'm just trying to figure out what's going on."
Kenia Castillo, who runs Castillo Grocery, said she was saddened by Thursday's blaze.
"It's very depressing," she said. "I'm not feeling very good. I never thought that would happen."
Ten firefighters were taken to North Central Bronx Hospital and treated for minor injuries after the initial blaze, a fire official said. A pedestrian who was passing the fire was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, officials added.
The MTA directed 2 and 5 trains to bypass 225th Street Station because of the fire, but service had resumed by Thursday evening.
Though the blaze devastated his businesses, Yafai remained hopeful.
“It’s a tragedy," he said. "But we’re going to get past this. We’ll rebuild.”