Nassau County Detectives say roofing contractors using a propane torch ignited the devastating fire that gutted three Port Washington businesss Thursday and left scores of people homeless.
The contractors were working in the building on Main Street at Herbert Avenue downtown when their torch set fire to the walls and quickly spread to the roof, Nassau Arson-Bomb Squad detectives said Friday.
Three businesses and the occupants of 11 apartments above them were displaced as a result of the stubborn, wind-swept blaze that began about 1:15 p.m. It took 150 firefighters and 40 pieces of fire apparatus from Port Washington and five nearby communities to put down the blaze. Firefighters were still on the scene well into the night.
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No serious injuries were reported on Friday and the Red Cross and others are assisting the victims.
One firefighter suffered an ankle injury at an area hospital; a National Grid employee was struck by falling debris but declined medical attention at the scene.
Detectives said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.