When fire crews first arrived at Mo's Marketplace on Route 30 in East Jamaica early Tuesday morning, they found lots of smoke and people scrambling out of the building.
Jamaica Fire Chief Dale West was supposed to be on his was to his honeymoon, but was one of the first on the scene. West says all 14 people in the apartments above the marketplace were asleep when the fire started.
"We were notified by passers-by that there was a fire in the building. They'd seen heavy smoke and I was one of the first ones on the scene," West said.
More than 20 departments responded to the scene and together fought not just the fire, but other complications.
"We actually had water supply issues due to the rivers are very dry and we actually had to go to the Townshend dam water source," West said.
Route 30 was closed for most of the morning so 20 water tankers could shuttle water across the 6-mile stretch from the dam to Mo's. Another concern-- Mo's Marketplace was once a gas station.
"Those tanks were a concern because we weren't sure how much fuel was still in some of those tanks and what it was," West said.
All 14 people, including owner Mohammad Alkhatib, got out of the burning building. One woman suffered smoke inhalation. She was treated and released from a nearby hospital.
A little after noon-- nine hours into fighting the blaze-- the charred shell of the building was torn down and then doused in white foam, deemed unsafe to remain standing.
Town resource officer Paul Frasier who says he hopes people in Jamaica will step up and offer temporary housing so the eight children left homeless will be able to start school in Jamaica next week.
The cause of that fire is still under investigation, but it is not considered suspicious.
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