Updated, 8 p.m.: Port Washington Firefighters continue to fight a stubborn inferno that has consumed the historic Fleming building, a commercial and residential property on Main Street across from the Long Island Rail Road Station.
Firefighters transmitted a fifth alarm at 6 p.m., bringing additional manpower to the scene. Heavy fire is still being reported in the eastern corner of the building, which dates to 1926.
Scores of people may have to be relocated, authorties said.
The fire broke out at about 1:30 p.m. and quickly spread to the occupied apartments above the Fusion Wireless store.
Members of six families were able to flee the flames, authorities said.
“Everyone got out,” said Deputy Police Chief Ron DeMeo.
Several businesses – Fusion Wireless, Yamaguchi, Port Washington Florist, Dunkin Donuts, Rosa's Pizza and a bodega – have been affected by the smoke and water damage, Smitheimer said.
Units from at least 10 area companies and 100 firefighters joined Port Washington at the scene, including Manhasset, New Hyde Park and Great Neck. The fire and smoke damage impacted the entire block. The block across the street may be affected as well due to smoke damage, authorities said. Businesses, including Yamaguchi, Dunkin Donuts and Rosa's Pizza are all on the same block where the fire broke out.
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Flames spread quickly through the building. Firefighters had three tower ladders in operation. Power, including traffic signals, was cut off in the immediate area.
Beth Ann Kozlowski was with her husband, Kevin, when the call came through. She recounted the story on Facebook: "My husband and I were on our way home from the dentist when the call came over," she said. "He hastily dropped me off and went to go fight the fire. Kevin Kozlowski is still there fighting it. I haven't seen him since 1:30. Thoughts and prayers are with him and his brothers while they battle this inferno."
Another local explained how she had to be evacuated. Lillian Prosaw Schenkler said: "I was at Shine Hair Salon for a 1:30 haircut. I was 20 minutes late getting there because of street closures due to the fire. They had just finished washing my hair and I was about to sit down in Joe's chair when we were all told to evacuate. I got out fast with my wet hair and split ends. I was lucky."
LIRR service on the Port Washington branch has not been affected at this time, though streets in the vicinity are closed off, and the public is urged to avoid the area.
"The Town's building department working with the County Fire Marshall will not be able to determine the extent of the overall structure damage until the fire is completely out," Smitheimer said. "Only then will they be able know if the present building can be rebuilt or if it has to be torn down."
Correction: The story has been updated to state the correct name of the building. It is Fleming, not Fuller.