Floral Park businesses suffer damage from Sunday morning fire

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A fire in Floral Park left more than 10 businesses suffering smoke and fire damage, according to officials. (Photo by Robert Pelaez)

A fire in Floral Park caused “substantial fire and smoke damage” in more than 10 businesses on Sunday morning, according to officials from the Nassau County Police Department.

Officials said Floral Park police responded to reports of a building fire at the Park Place Bar and Grill at 41 Covert Ave.  Upon arriving at the scene, officers observed fire and smoke from the building that extended to at least 11 other adjacent storefronts, according to a news release from the county Police Department.

Firefighters from the Floral Park Fire Department along with the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department, Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company, the New Hyde Park Fire Department and almost 20 others were represented at the scene throughout the day.

Nassau County Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said it took firefighters more than four hours to control the fire. Six businesses sustained major damage or were destroyed, while four others were damaged by smoke, Uttaro said. A private residence also had smoke damage, officials said.

Two members of the New Hyde Park Fire Department were transported to a nearby hospital, where they were treated for exhaustion and an elevated heart rate, according to officials.  One Elmont firefighter also suffered exhaustion, officials said.  Uttaro said all firefighters were in stable condition.

Neighboring stores to Park Place affected by the fire included Villager’s Perk, Shin’s Tae Kwon Do, Luna Eyelash, Capo Ristorante, Covert Nail & Spa, Covert Barber Shop, Original V.I. Pizza, Covert Optical and K. Hunter Boutique.

“Like all of our Covert Ave family, we were shocked and saddened by yesterday’s devastating fire,” K. Hunter Boutique said in a Facebook post. “Our hearts go out to our neighbors who have lost everything. We are incredibly thankful to all the firefighters and first responders who worked to get this fire under control.  While we sustained no major damage, our store will be closed temporarily and we will reopen our doors as soon as we are able to.”

“No matter where it started, this was an accident that no one on the block wanted to happen!” Villager’s Perk said on Facebook. “The outpouring of support has been so uplifting and needed. We all are so grateful to be doing business in Floral Park. Villager’s Perk is so fortunate to have business neighbors like Park Place, Shin’s and Capo! I am available to help anyone on the block who needs it.”

Paul Capoziello and his wife, Ingrid, have owned Capo Ristorante since 2009 and spoke to Newsday about the difficulties they faced throughout the coronavirus pandemic and how the fire will impact them.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” he told Newsday. “We went through COVID, helping the hospitals … We’ll have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and rebuild.”

Capoziello told Newsday he got a call early Sunday after the fire began around 6:20, according to officials. Capoziello said he was there around 7 a.m. when his restaurant was still “untouched” before ultimately being engulfed by the flames, according to Newsday.

The investigation into the cause of the fire remains ongoing, officials from the Nassau County Police Department said.

“It’s just such a horrible tragedy, especially for our businesses who were getting somewhat back to somewhat normal after the pandemic,” Village of Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran went to Twitter on Sunday and said, “My heart breaks for the small businesses along Covert Avenue in [Floral Park] that were devastated by today’s fire. Thank you to [the Nassau County fire marshal] and all of our brave volunteer fire departments and first responders across Nassau for coming together to bring the flames under control.”

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin called the event “heartbreaking” and said the town “is ready to assist these businesses in any way possible during the rebuilding process.”

A GoFundMe was created by a community leader in New Hyde Park in conjunction with the New Hyde Park and Floral Park Chamber of Commerce on Sunday to aid the affected businesses and has raised more than $16,000.

“Our communities always come together in a crisis, and we must come together now, as we know how,” the GoFundMe description reads. “This fund is in partnership with surrounding communities.  Monies raised will be distributed to the businesses directly affected by the fire.”

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