Two people suffered minor injuries after a fire erupted on the roof of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Queens on Friday, fire officials said.
Emergency officials first received reports that a large cloud of black smoke was gushing from the top of the hospital in the Far Rockaway neighborhood around 5:15 p.m., they said. The fire was fully extinguished within an hour, the authorities said.
Videos posted on social media showed the plume of smoke at the hospital billowing out over the ocean, and visible across several sections of the borough.
Patients and staff in several departments, including the hospital’s emergency room, were evacuated as the blaze broke out, city officials said, while others remained sheltered in place as emergency workers searched the building. Officials said the two injured people were expected to be taken to other hospitals.
The Queens borough president, Donovan Richards, said in an interview that the fire was on the rooftop, and that the 11th floor of the hospital sustained water damage. He also said that some patients staying at the hospital had been transferred as a precaution, but that by Friday evening, the hospital had resumed operations.
Fire officials said the cause of the blaze was unclear as of Friday evening.
Tyler Holgate said he and his brother were visiting their mother in her room on the 11th floor on Friday when he saw smoke outside her window.
“Two minutes later we could not see anything outside the window,” said Holgate, 26. “We ran out and told the nurse there is a fire. They had no idea.”
His mother was evacuated safely to a different floor, he said.
St. John’s Episcopal is an independent hospital with a 257-bed capacity, and is the only medical center providing emergency and ambulatory care to the Rockaway peninsula. The area has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus in New York City. The hospital has recently been the subject of proposed cuts that would drastically shrink its capacity.
Messages left for a hospital spokesman were not returned on Friday.
Jeffery C. Mays contributed reporting.
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