NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The owners of several Yemeni and Pakistani businesses in Bedford-Stuyvesant say they’re struggling to survive after their homes and stores were impacted by a fire two weeks ago.
As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Monday, the community is rallying behind them.
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“We have a bleak future,” business owner Asad Chaudhry said. “Now the restaurant’s closed, there’s nothing for our family to go on.”
Chaudhry owns a Halal restaurant on Nostrand Avenue, one of several structures damaged after a fire broke out at an abandoned building next door on Gates Avenue back on Feb. 7.
Two people died in the fire, authorities said.
“They should have demolished that building five years ago,” Chaudhry said. “This should not of happened, two people died.”
Video shows the destruction to Zakaria Sohil’s apartment, which is above the deli where he worked. Sohil started the recording as flames tore through his wall and he was trying to get out.
Sohil has been living in a van ever since, partly because he’s out of a home, but also because he’s afraid of looters and wants to keep an eye on his uncle’s deli.
“In case if somebody wants to break this business, the store, and take whatever I still have left, because… everything else spoiled,” said Manssur Saleh, who owns the deli.
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The Department of Buildings found this strip of businesses — including the deli, a restaurant and three apartments above them — was structurally unstable and issued an order to vacate.
They must make repairs in order to be allowed back.
“Tens of thousands, without a doubt. Just the restaurant equipment alone is going to be at least $20-30,000, something like that. The structural damage could balloon the costs a lot. It’s hard to estimate right now,” landlord Ahmad Ali said.
Ali said his family switched insurance policies days before the fire and may not be covered.
“We’re going to try and see if we can make a claim on the other buildings, because they caused the fire,” Ali said.
A GoFundMe has been started to help pay for the construction. It’s raised more than $30,000, so far.
“All I want… is to open up back my business,” Saleh said.
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Theses families are hoping to come up with enough money to get their lives and livelihoods back.