LONG ISLAND CITY — Fire officials say hundreds of firefighters and emergency workers have contained a massive blaze inside New York Custom Interior Millwork Corporation, a family-owned woodwork and interior design company located at 43-34 37th Street. Established in 1966, it is one of the oldest and most respected woodworking companies.
The New York Fire Department says the Queens fire was placed under control around 11:20PM on Wednesday, Aug 3, about four hours after it broke out, the AP reported.
Chief of Department James Leonard says more than 250 firefighters and EMS workers responded to the blaze. He says four firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Leonard says the millwork factory was destroyed, but firefighters were able to save three large businesses.
Images of the fire show big billows of black smoke rising above railyards adjacent to the burning building in the borough’s Long Island City neighborhood.
Fire marshals are investigating what sparked the blaze inside the building.
Elizabeth Lagos, owner of the millwork business, was on the scene all night and returned the next morning, according to draftsman Michael Walshe who works for the company and spoke to The National Herald at the scene this morning. No employees were inside at the time of the fire which broke out around 7:30PM. Walshe noted that the family-owned business is extremely busy since very few companies create the custom millwork and designs much of which are hand-drawn and handcrafted. The wood and woodworking materials undoubtedly contributed to the ferocity of the blaze, and the investigation as to the cause is ongoing. One of the machines lost in the fire was an old-fashioned word-working machine that Walshe said would be hard to replace, and if any older architects and/or woodworkers knew of one or where one could be found, he would appreciate it since he worked with that particular machine. Three of the highly skilled workers worked by hand on projects for the company. Many of the workers arrived on the scene this morning but were not allowed to approach the building since the investigation as to the cause remains unknown at this time and for obvious safety reasons. Walshe told TNH that Lagos called all the workers and assured them the business would take care of them in the aftermath of the fire. The workers still felt deeply concerned about the situation, but all were thankful that no one was seriously hurt.
Another business owner spoke to The National Herald, Brad Shar of Lowy, an art framing company located two doors down from the millwork company, told TNH that one of his workers who lives nearby called him after seeing the billowing black smoke of the fire. He was waiting on the morning after the fire to be allowed back into his business since the street remained closed to normal traffic. Shar waited until the police and fire officials allowed him to check on his business. The smell of the burned wood lingers in the air as the investigation continues.