A raging fire that shut down an entire block in White Plains at East Post Road and Court Street Wednesday has destroyed six businesses—including a shoe store, restaurant and dry cleaners—and injured 25 firefighters and two civilians, according to White Plains officials.
All of the injuries are minor, and most are heat-related, according to White Plains Fire Chief Richard Lyman. White Plains temperatures reached the high 90s today, dangerous conditions for firefighters wearing 150-plus pounds of equipment.
"The heat slowed our progress," Lyman said at a press conference earlier in the evening.
The fire began at approximately 2:30 p.m. in the basement of the Indian restaurant Bengal Tiger at 140 E. Post Rd.
By 4 p.m., the fire had traveled to the rooftop and spread to at least two other nearby businesses.
"Because of the fire's location [in the basement], it was very hard to get water there," White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley explained at the press conference.
As of approximately 8:30 p.m., firefighters we were still battling flames and looking for new hot spots, Lyman said.
The cause of the fire is still undetermined, but reports note restaurant patrons escaped the fire unharmed, although one woman was taken to White Plains Hospital Center for heat exhaustion.
Though the blaze was concentrated on one city block, several blocks surrounding the area were cloudy with smoke—residents watched the blaze with makeshift masks and face covers. Nearby roads also experienced mild flooding from hydrant and hose run-off.
The fire comes only a day after a drought warning was issued by the city of White Plains, cautioning the entire population of White Plains and Scarsdale to cut back on their use of water this summer to prevent a far-reaching drought that could be otherwise caused by ongoing Kensico Dam work. The county also banned open fires Wednesday, citing an "increased risk of fire caused by record-breaking temperatures with very little rain" according to Joseph Stout, commissioner of the county parks.
And as a result of this blaze, residents have been asked to conserve water further.
"We've used a tremendous amount of water to fight this fire, and we don't want to take any away from this vital effort," Bradley said.
Scarsdale firefighters were among those responding to the scene at Post Road, and a fire department official said earlier in the day they expected to be there for hours. Firefighters from Greenburgh, Hartsdale and Fairview also joined White Plains battling the flames.
"The mutual aid system is working and working well," Bradley said.
This fire was unique not only for its size, Bradley added. It was the second blaze White Plains firefighters had to battle today, happening on the heels of a fire at a Con Edison plant.