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3 Firefighters Hurt Battling Blaze In Queens Village; 'The Flames Were So High, It Was An Inferno'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Three firefighters were injured while battling a blaze in Queens Village that raced through a row of businesses on Saturday morning.

Neighbors and business owners told CBS2's Kiran Dhillon they were horrified as they watched the fire burn.

The flames were high and powerful, and they spread quickly. Three businesses on Springfield Boulevard in Queens Village became completely engulfed in flames.

"It was like crazy smoke. A lot of smoke coming. You can't go over there," Mohammed Zokeri said.

Zokeri was working in the deli attached to the building that caught flames. He said he rushed out to the smell of smoke and quickly called 911.

"It smelled like burning, like something burning, like wood, lots of smoke," Zokeri said.

As heavy smoke filled the air, hundreds of firefighters responded to the scene. Zokeri said he rushed to get his entire family out of their home, which is right above one of the businesses that did not catch fire.

"Of course scared, because I was worried about my family," Zokeri said.

"The flames were so high and it was an inferno," added a woman named Marie, who owns nearby Creole Fusion Caribbean Buffet.

She said she watched in fear, terrified the flames would spread to her restaurant.

Luckily, they didn't.

"We were praying. We were praying. Honestly, all I can say is that we are blessed," Marie said.

Raphael Torres owns Hair By Beatriz, one of the businesses that burned.

"It's just sad. It's sad that it happened on a Saturday after Good Friday, you know? I just don't know what to do or what to say," Torres said.

FDNY crews were eventually able to put the flames out. Three firefighters were hurt -- two were taken to local hospitals with second- and third-degree burns -- when a ceiling collapse trapped them inside for a time.

Marie and her neighbor, Mohammed, said they are grateful for their help, but sad for their neighbors.

"With COVID, what everyone has done through, for this to happen, it's heartbreaking and I really do feel for my business friends here. It's sad," Marie said.

As for the injured firefighters, they are expected to be OK.

There was no immediate word on what caused the fire.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report

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