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Queens Fire That Destroyed More Than A Dozen Businesses Ruled Accidental

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The cause of a massive fire in Queens that destroyed more than a dozen businesses and disrupted subway service has been ruled as accidental, the FDNY said Thursday.

The FDNY said fire marshals determined the 4-alarm fire, which broke out Wednesday afternoon on Roosevelt Avenue, was caused by an accidental cooking fire which originated in a restaurant.

Surveying the damage, firefighters kept a watchful eye Thursday morning.

"The fire is right now under control and we're just standing by as a precautionary watch line," FDNY Lt. Jim Maloney told CBS2's Magdalena Doris.

Wednesday afternoon, flames and thick black smoke rose above the cluster of stores, the fire spreading through 15 small businesses stacked one on top of another and side-by-side.

The devastating flames wiped out dozens of jobs as employees and neighbors watched unable to take their eyes off the destruction.

"Twenty or 30 people losing a lot of property there," said superintendent Ruben Lopez. "Too much damage. Ceiling down, the walls -- all destroyed inside."

Steven Lee lost thousands.

"Maybe 20, 30,000," he said.

It took five hours for the nearly 200 firefighters to drown out the flames. During the firefight, hundreds of gallons of water seeped underground, flooding the 7 train line and shutting down overnight service between Mets-Willets Point and Flushing-Main Street.

In the dark Wednesday night, business owners took on the painstaking task of climbing through the debris to pull out anything that may be salvageable.

"I'm feeling down when I see everything," Lopez said.

"Nobody got hurt. Thank God," said another man.

The fire tore holes through the roof and busted the windows on the structure. The FDNY will be leading a multi-agency meeting. to determine whether the business can rebuild or if they'll have to restart from the ground up.

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