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FDNY battles fire in the Bronx as hot weather complicates response

Fire at Bronx Dunkin Donuts impacts 3 other businesses
Fire at Bronx Dunkin Donuts impacts 3 other businesses 02:34

NEW YORK -- A fire that started inside a Dunkin' Donuts in the Bronx on Thursday quickly spread to neighboring businesses, according to the FDNY. 

Officials said employees were opening the coffee shop on Third Avenue between East 155th and 156th streets in the Melrose section at around 5 a.m. when the fire broke out.

Dozens of firefighters battled the flames for hours before the blaze was eventually put out. Some remained on the scene to handle hot spots, and streets near the scene were closed to traffic as smoke engulfed the area. 

Three firefighters were hospitalized and treated for minor injuries.

FDNY says several businesses suffered damage 

Officials said at least five other businesses were impacted by the blaze --  a Chinese food restaurant, smoke shop, textile store, furniture shop and 99 cent shop.

"Everybody is out of a job now. Owners aren't making any money. It's very, very unfortunate," one person said. 

One man told CBS New York he is the owner of the Dunkin Donuts, but couldn't speak on camera. The owner of Cedra Pharmacy next door said his shop was also damaged.

"The basement flooded," he said. "We are a pharmacy, so we have lots of medication inside. So we're moving it to another store. We have to move because they have to be refrigerated."

For those in need of medication, the pharmacy staff said to call the regular phone number and you'll be directed to an emergency hotline.

Across the street, the Bronx Business Center, which issues vehicle tow releases and holds parking ticket hearings, was closed all morning due to the fire, as a line formed outside.

"We try to get the tow off the car. We trying to get the boot off. We sit here by 9 o'clock and we still waiting," one person said.

Pedro Suarez, the executive director of the Third Avenue Business Improvement District, said the loss of the shops hurts the neighborhood.

"Big impact, going to have to do a renovation. We're in communication with the Department of Small Business Services and emergency response team," Suarez said.

Nearby residents scrambled to get to safety

Jacqueline Figueroa said she smelled smoke and then rushed to get her family out of their Third Avenue apartment.

"I have a special special needs son, so I told him to 'dress up, let's go,'" Figueroa said. "We took our fur babies because I have two dogs, two cats. We came back [to warn] all the family. We're banging [on] the doors to neighbors."

"They evacuated us, so we just came down and the whole fire was from the Dunkin Donuts," resident Melanie Vega added.

Some residents were allowed back in their homes at around 10 a.m.

Hot weather, high humidity complicated response

Fire officials said smoke from the fire did not rise as quickly as it normally would have due to high humidity. 

"Given the weather today, with the humidity, the smoke is not lifting. So I advise all the residents in the area to keep their windows closed. We have fire marshals on the scene and are currently investigating the cause of the fire. We do not know the cause at this time. They will do an investigation and determine a cause," said FDNY Assistant Chief Kevin Brennan. 

The fire happened as temperatures are soaring to potentially dangerous levels this week in New York City and across the Tri-State Area. 

Officials have been urging people to take precautions

If you don't have air conditioning in your in your home, there are cooling centers across New York City, including libraries, community centers, malls and museums. The Salvation Army is also opening cooling centers

City pools are not open yet, but beaches are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

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