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Small Fire Erupts At Grand Central Terminal; Many Fear Worst After Brussels Attack

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A small fire broke Tuesday afternoon in the kitchen of Junior's restaurant in the food court of Grand Central Terminal.

As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported, there was a very large police presence at the railroad depot Tuesday afternoon. While the fire turned out to be minor, many feared the worst following the terrorist attacks in Brussels earlier in the day.

The fire broke out at around 2 p.m. Footage from the scene showed thick plumes of smoke emerging from the roof vents of the terminal.

Hours earlier, 34 people were killed and 214 people were injured when two explosions hit the Brussels Airport at Zaventem, and a third struck in the city's Maelbeek metro station. The attack prompted a ramp-up in security in New York City.

And the Grand Central fire also sparked worry about a potential terror attack.

"With that happening in Belgium, it obviously could happen here with the 9/11 and everything," said Grand Central passenger Danielle Crook. "Yes, it scary."

Grand Central passenger Kristin Endler said "of course" terrorism crossed her mind.

"I mean, just reading that this morning, you know, of course, the thoughts of it did," she said.

The fire turned out to be relatively minor, and limited to the kitchen at the Junior's cheesecake restaurant in the underground food hall.

"There were some flames coming out by the kitchen door – it looked like the back section over the grill," said Grand Central worker Rich DiBari. "It was just engulfed in flames."

Firefighters poured water into the smoky kitchen and flooded parts of the food hall. But no one was injured and there was no mass evacuation.

"We made announcements to people near that area to call them and let them know that it was just a kitchen fire," said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Roger Sakowich.

Because of what happened in Belgium, some 400 National Guard troops have been deployed at key transportation hubs around New York City including train stations and airports.

The NYPD also mobilized heavily-armed counterterrorism officers, who are very visible at Grand Central in the subways and other landmarks.

"This included heavy weapons teams, special weapons teams, Transit, Canine, Special Operations Division, explosive detection canine, our vapor weight dogs that can move through crowds and detect suicide bombers on the move, as well as numerous bag checks at subway entrances, as well as explosive residue detection machinery deployed at other bag check locations," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism John Miller.

And Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will not let the terrorists change our way of life.

"We are going to respond to their efforts to create chaos by showing them order, by showing our society functioning; our city functioning," the mayor said.

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