A W52nd Street fire burned for hours in the basement of an unlicensed smoke shop overnight Wednesday — the latest in a spate of fires to hit Hell’s Kitchen, but the first at one of the area’s prolific illicit cannabis stores.
FDNY first responsed to the fire at the five-story, 16-unit building at 346 W52nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue, home to Hell’s Kitchen Clouds, at 11:42pm Wednesday evening. It was declared a two-alarm fire at 12:15am, according to FDNY. Officials said over 100 firefighters were needed to deal with the blaze, which was finally brought under control at 1:58am on Thursday. Apartments above the shop lost electricity and gas, as did the adjacent Korean restaurant Danji.
Danji sous chef Diablo told W42ST: “We salvaged whatever we could from our coolers — my friendly neighbors at Via Toscana let us put the rest of our fish and meat in their refrigerators.” He added that they may be closed for up to a week. Adjacent businesses Via Toscana and Hush were unaffected by the fire and expected to open this evening.
The blaze is one of several major fires in the area recently, including a February incident at 764 9th Avenue which led to a widespread investigation over the legality of tenant e-bike storage. Improperly stored e-bikes and lithium batteries have been determined as a significant fire risk across the city, with some landlords banning them altogether. E-bike batteries were identified as the cause of a two-alarm fire at 725 11th Avenue, a blaze that has left its residents homeless for nearly a year. As for the neighborhood’s smoke shops — although the city has declared a crackdown on unlicensed vendors as detrimental to the city’s legal rollout, dozens of stores still remain in Midtown.
The FDNY said there were no injuries sustained in the fire. W42ST has reached out for additional details on the cause of the blaze and will update this story if we hear back.