Mount Vernon — The Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant (27-29 W Sandford Blvd) and Best West Fish Market (31 W Sandford Blvd) and homes behind them caught fire Sunday morning.
The massive fire, appears to have begun at the Chinese restaurant around 8:30 a.m. Firefighters for four fire departments including Yonkers and Pelham reported to the scene as flames burst through the building’s roof, firefighters worked to douse the fire, which also damaged two nearby homes on Sixth Avenue and displaced 13 people. Thick clouds of grey smoke billowed into the overcast sky and could be seen several blocks away on the Southside of Mount Vernon through the steady rain.
Officials said Monday morning they were still investigating the cause of the fire, but that it did not seem suspicious.
Mt. Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas, who ran on public safety and has been very vocal, championing the cause for the need for more firefighters in the city, was on the scene, directing emergency personnel and firefighters. City recreation buses sat idling nearby in case the Sanford Terrance senior living facility (21 W Sandford Blvd) needed to be evacuated further, Thomas informed the press.
Firefighters evacuated two residential buildings on Sixth Avenue, Lohud reported. The home at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West Sandford was damaged in the blaze, and a nearby three-family residence seems to have also been affected, though details remained unclear Sunday afternoon. The Sandford Terrace senior living complex’s upper floors were evacuated due to smoke conditions, but that building was not damaged by the fire. There are nearly 108 seniors living at the complex, officials said.
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Errol Holnes, owner of the West Best Fish Market, street watching firefighters fights flames in his business, from across the street.
Carolyn Sherwin from the American Red Cross said more than three families were displaced by the blaze. The 13 people were assisted by three Red Cross volunteers at the nearby Doles Center, which has been opened as a reception and warming center. Sherwin said the volunteers were “providing any and all needed emergency services” and that the Doles Center was a “warm, dry haven for displaced residents.”
The Red Cross was also providing hot coffee, water and snacks for firefighters, she said.