Firefighters spent hours battling a stubborn five-alarm fire in Bronx Wednesday morning.
The fire burned through a row of three stores in the Morris Heights section of Bronx in the 1900 block of University Avenue. Two other stores suffered heavy water damage.
The fire broke out in a 99 cent store after 5:30 a.m. and spread to others, including a grocery store. The businesses were closed, enabling flames to spread before firefighters arrived.
Three firefighters sustained minor injuries; 200 firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze.
The intensity of the flames prevented firefighters from entering the buildings. “A lot of smoke, a lot of fire, and once you go to an exterior tact, you are not in there opening up accesses for water to get on it so it takes a while to put out,” said FDNY Deputy Chief Joe Saccente.
Hot spots continued to flare up for hours, sending thick, choking smoke into the neighborhood. Parts of Burnside Avenue and University were shut down.
Students at two schools were relocated to another building.
Numerous streets in the area were closed because of fire department activity. Buses, including Bx3, Bx40 and Bx42, were detoured locally.
The cause of the fire is unknown. The city building department will evaluate the structure’s integrity and survey the damage, but it appears to be a total loss.