A three-alarm fire in Long Island City was brought under control just after 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, but not until after it caused major congestion on the Long Island Expressway.
The fire broke out just before 6 a.m. inside an empty warehouse at 50th Avenue and 27th Street, just below the LIE.
The smoke reduced visibility on the roadway and briefly forced its closure.
Fire officials say the heat from the fire was intense, forcing firefighters to fight the flames from the outside of the building.
"We originally sent people in, but it was deemed unsafe, too much fire and a whole building that had been vacant," said FDNY Deputy Chief Bob Maynes. "So we were worried about the safety of our firefighters."
About 150 firefighters were needed to bring the fire under control.
The flames completely destroyed the facade of the building and took off most of the roof.
Three firefighters were treated for minor injuries.
Fire marshals have begun their investigation into the cause of the fire.