Fierce Five-Alarm Fire Rips Through Bronx Strip Mall

NY Daily News - October 31, 2009

by Sarah Armaghan, Jill Colvin and Larry Mcshane

A fierce five-alarm fire tore through a Bronx strip mall early Saturday, injuring four firefighters and devastating the owners of 14 gutted businesses. "There is nothing left," said Mir Mansur, owner of Neighborhood Gift and Wireless, as he surveyed the wreckage.

"I've lost everything. I'm just thinking, what do I do next?"

The roof and the front wall of the building at E. 205th St. and Bainbridge Ave. collapsed as the 3 a.m. fire raged for hours.

It was the second fire at the site in the last seven months. Ana Mirvita, whose family owns Bainbridge Bakery and Pastry, said her family invested $300,000 to repair the site after April's blaze - and now it's gone down in flames again.

"We were supposed to open Monday ... Now I don't know what we're going to do," she said while standing outside her burned-out business.

"I'm very distraught right now," Mirvita continued. "This was our bread and butter. Who has the money to reopen? This is so bad."

Both Mansur and Mirvita said their businesses were uninsured due to the damages caused by the first fire.

Mirvita said the bakery's insurance was due to kick in again in two days.

It took 150 firefighters to control the massive blaze.

Fire marshals were already on site, although the cause remained under investigation, said Deputy Assistant Fire Chief John Sudnik.

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the intense blaze. Salvatore Mirra, 56, owns the neighboring Hillside Meat and Deli - but his business was spared as firefighters brought the fire under control.

He was called to the scene in the middle of the night by a friend in the Bronx neighborhood, and watched helplessly as the raging blaze destroyed the strip mall.

"Oh my God, the whole block was engulfed in flames," he said. "It was surreal."