A fire at the Kings Plaza shopping center in Brooklyn, New York was reported at at around 9AM on Monday morning (local time) and rapidly spread across vehicles parked in a garage.
The blaze started off as a two-alarm emergency, but has since been raised to a seven-alarm incident, with authorities urging residents and shoppers to stay indoors to shield themselves from the smoke.
Some 18 firefighters have sustained injuries from inhaling smoke while tackling the raging fire, while three civilians have also been rushed to hospital, the local fire department said in a statement.
“There are 21 injuries – three to civilians and 18 to Firefighters, none are life-threatening. Members have various levels of smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, working under these conditions,” the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) said.
The NYPD is yet to comment on whether or not it suspects any criminal wrongdoing, but the department’s 63rd precinct has warned that a number of roads have been cordoned off, advising locals to stay clear of the area and find alternative routes before setting off to minimize disruption.
Eyewitnesses documenting the blaze have posted footage online showing plumes of smoke rising and engulfing parts of Brooklyn.
BREAKING: Fire at Kings Plaza shopping center is now a 6 alarm. Multiple marine units have been requested to try and fight the blaze from the water. pic.twitter.com/Kl5esS3B6m— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 17, 2018
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 17, 2018