One person watching the towering column of black smoke rising from nearly 10 miles away compared it to an erupting volcano.
A seven-alarm blaze that destroyed a vacant food-processing plant in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn may have affected more people on this side of the borough’s border.
The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon at an abandoned food processing factory between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue in Cypress Hills, only a few blocks from the Queens line. The fire quickly engulfed the building sending thick black smoke into the air. It burned through the night, even through a rainstorm, going to seven alarms by midnight. It was finally brought under control by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, almost 17 hours after it began.
More than 50 trucks and 200 firefighters from both Brooklyn and Queens responded to the fire. Seven firefighters were injured, four were treated at the scene and three were taken to the hospital, but none of the injuries are life- threatening. No one else was injured though the fire attracted a number of onlookers.
The thick smoke plume, which could be seen as far away as Jamaica and Long Island City, left a brown haze in its path in some nearby Queens neighborhoods including Glendale, Forest Hills and Woodhaven. By nightfall, the acrid smell of smoke and fire had spread south through Ozone Park and Howard Beach. Soot was reported on the windows and terraces of at least one high-rise on Queens Boulevard.
The J and Z trains, which run along an elevated track above Fulton Street, were suspended between Broadway Junction in East New York and Jamaica Center, Parsons/Archer for nearly 12 hours, stranding commuters trying to get to Woodhaven and Richmond Hill on the subway. The MTA ran shuttle service between Cypress Hills and Jamaica instead.
Though service was restored before daybreak on Wednesday, the Crescent Street station, one block from the fire, did not reopen until 10 a.m.