Early Morning Fire Destroys Businesses In Williston Park

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The charred remains of Bagel Express (Photo by Anthony Murray)

An early morning four-alarm fire that ripped through two local businesses in Williston Park this past Sunday now has the Nassau County Police Department’s Arson Bomb Squad investigating.

According to detectives of the Nassau County Police Department, officers of the Third Precinct responded to a car fire in the rear lot of Bagel Express and the Eye Level Learning Center, which were located at 61 Hillside Ave. at approximately 6 a.m. Upon arrival, police observed a 2008 Chrysler delivery van belonging to the Bagel Express, which was parked close to the building, fully engulfed in flames. The fire had also spread to both businesses causing extensive damage. All occupants were evacuated. Additionally, a power outage occurring at 65 Hillside Ave., which is where Jane’s Nail and Spa is located, caused 16 residents to be displaced.

NCPD shut down Hillside Avenue during the investigation. (Photo by Anthony Murray)

The blaze also drew a massive fire department response. The Williston Park Fire Department (WPFD), with the assistance of the Mineola, Manhasset-Lakeville, Albertson, Great Neck, Floral Park, Garden City Park, New Hyde Park and Westbury fire departments responded to extinguish the flames. The Nassau County Fire Communications, Nassau County Fire Marshall’s Office, Nassau County O.E.M. and the Red Cross also responded to the scene. Units from the Carle Place, Garden City and Franklin Square fire departments stood by at the WPFD headquarters to cover any additional calls.

According to Mineola Fire Department chief Rob Connolly, the Mineola Fire Department was alerted for a mutual aid to the Williston Park Fire Department at approximately 6:09 a.m. While en route to the scene, FIRECOM advised that the fire had been upgraded to a working building fire. Based on deteriorating conditions, an additional alarm was sounded by Williston Park bringing the Mineola Fire Department’s FAST team to the scene. The FAST team is a firefighter assist standby team, whose only purpose is to rescue down firefighters in the event of such an emergency.

Over the course of the next three hours, Mineola Fire Department Tower Ladder 168 provided master stream operations battling the deep-seated fire. Additional teams searched the adjacent structures to ensure that the fire did not spread. Despite being hampered by sub freezing temperatures and the collapse of the roof, firefighters aggressively overhauled the fire building ensuring that all pockets of fire has been extinguished.

While battling the blaze, a Williston Park firefighter suffered a shoulder injury and was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The operation lasted approximately six hours and was under the supervision of Williston Park Chief of Department John Perro.

The Nassau County Fire Marshall and the Nassau County Arson Bomb Squad also responded to investigate where the investigation is ongoing.

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