Last night the smoke I thought was from a neighbor grilling turned out to be from the biggest fire I have ever seen–at the end of my block. I watched for a few hours as Hong Kong Supermarket, a Chinatown landmark, and the apartment building attached to it burned down. It felt surreal, like a film noir movie in color: rain, mist, smoke, fire, trenchcoats and dramatic lighting. The streets were full of Chinese in pajamas and reporters with big cameras standing in the rain.
Unfortunately, the huge fire that drew trucks from across lower Manhattan destroyed these buildings. It was a 4 alarm fire (which is apparently a lot.) If it started in the bottom of the building next door, as the news reports, then my boyfriend and I were right to guess that it started as a kitchen fire in the subterranean Chinese restaurant.
Like a postman, I could carry on through smoke, and rain, and fire to our weekly ravels in review, but that seems decidedly anti-climatic. So let’s skip it and get to the photos:
Luckily the fire didn’t spread to the gas station across the street, or anymore buildings than Hong Kong Supermarket which, stuffed with packaging and boxes in an old warehouse, went up like a tinderbox.
This was taken at about 11:30, when the fire was under control and you could finally see through the smoke.
There were tons of photographers from the news there, and I even ended up on 1010Wins, a local station, myself (you have to listen to the audio to hear me).
I left the scene just before midnight and then couldn’t settle down until 2 AM, so I’m exhausted. I still can’t believe Hong Kong burned down. While there are no end of fruit and vegetable stands, nothing else in Manhattan’s Chinatown has that range of products. They imported all Asian products, so that the ramen you bought there was packaged in Manadarin characters and the soy milk you bought was literally soy+water (not quite to my taste.) It became a staple in the Asian community: I know three different friends whose parents are Asian immigrants and still shop there whenever they get the chance, even after moving to New Jersey or Queens. I hope they rebuild it.