Investigators are trying to figure out what sparked a fire inside a commercial building in Queens.
The flames broke out just before 6 p.m. Monday on the third floor of the building located at 7409 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, and eventually spread to the fourth floor.
"Customers were shopping, the workers were in the back in the office. We got them all out quickly. Thank god everybody was safe. We just locked the door behind us and we watched the whole thing all night long," said Frank Buonagurio, a business owner affected by the fire.
It took about 200 firefighters nearly six hours to get the fire under control.
Firefighters said smoke and wind made their work difficult.
"It's just a stubborn fire," said Assistant Chief Thomas Jensen of the FDNY. "There was areas in the rear of the building where the tower ladders couldn't reach, certain areas that we couldn't get water on right away. So it's just a stubborn fire."
"There was flames everywhere, smoke everywhere and everything burnt to ashes within half an hour," said Tanveer Ahmad, a business owner affected by the fire.
Three minor injuries were reported including a teenage boy who was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
The upper floors of the building are occupied by Plaza College, but the school says there were no classes going on when the fire broke out.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm, who represents the area, says there are 50 small businesses and several non-profits in the building, making for an uncertain future for owners and employees who worked inside.