Fire devastates historic Main Street building

Minah Kim , Senior News Editor

On a windy winter day, smoke blew throughout the town, obscuring drivers’ views and infiltrating every building.  People on the streets covered their faces as they ran toward their cars.

On Mar. 14, a fire at the historical Fleming building spread quickly and sent up billows of smoke.  Students heard a muffled announcement that a section of Main Street near Dunkin Donuts was ablaze.  The announcement warned students to avoid Main Street and take caution when leaving the building.

“I could smell the smoke in the building and once I left, it was hard to see because of all the smoke,” said senior Dana Mirro.

As students left the building, the reality became clearer as massive clouds of smoke rose above Main Street and spread throughout town.  Community members brought face masks to the crossing guards and the middle school gave out masks to all students leaving the building.  Many local businesses closed for the day and stores like Rite Aid only allowed entrance through the back door due to smoke.

“I had an off period during the time and my brother texted me to be careful because there was a fire going on above Dunkin Donuts,” said sophomore Carmen Kam.  “When the school announced it I was surprised because I didn’t think the fire could be large enough to affect us.  And since the day was really windy, it was unfortunate that the smoke was blown all over town.  The stores around the fire probably will have difficulties because of the damage caused even though they have nothing to do with the fire.”

Many students were at the scene of the fire and had to evacuate the area.

“I was in Dunkin Donuts with my friends during my off period and Officer Tony came in and told us to get out.  I had no idea what was going on, but I saw smoke above the AT&T store,” said senior Marni Wilkoff.

Alarms rang throughout the day as firefighters from several districts arrived.  Traffic remained congested on Main Street and sections of Port Washington Blvd.  Firefighters were battling the fire past 8 p.m.

Dunkin Donuts and Rosa’s reopened on Friday, but Steve’s Barber Shop, Yamaguchi, and Fusion Wireless AT&T remain closed due to smoke and water damage.

“I just think it was horrible for the people who lived in those apartments and the business owners.  People are now homeless and have nothing left because of people’s carelessness,” said sophomore Laura Kobrinsky.

Although the fire caused no injuries, around 50 people were displaced from their homes.  The Red Cross and the Town of North Hempstead established a shelter for displaced people at the Port Washington Senior Center.  Schreiber’s FBLA collected clothing and cash donations at Seussical performances.  Donations can also be sent to Our Lady of Fatima Parish Outreach.

“I think it’s really impressive how quickly community members responded to this disaster.  I saw a lot of donations at Seussical and people are very willing to find ways to help,” said senior Emily Hack.