Today’s news:

3 dead in accidental fire at LIC auto body shop

Three people died and six were injured early Wednesday morning in a commercial garage fire in Long Island City that authorities say was accidental.

The fire at the one-story building, at 21-10 38th Ave., began at 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, said Fireman Leon Cavallo, a Fire Department spokesman. It took 121 firefighters about an hour to bring the blaze under control, but three people were found dead at the scene, Cavallo said.

The three victims, two employees of the garage and one customer, apparently died of burns, Cavallo said. Names of the victims were not available as of press time.

Six other people, including four firefighters, were injured in the fire, Cavallo said. The firefighters suffered various minor injuries, and the two other victims from the building were taken to the New York Hospital-Cornell burn center.

Fire officials determined that the fire was accidental, and it apparently started inside the garage. The fire began when a customer dropped a cigarette, igniting fuel spilled by a worker who was repairing the fuel pump of a taxi cab, said Officer Louis Cruz, a police spokesman.

Fire Department Chief Frank Cruthers told reporters at the scene that firefighters were able to control the blaze before it spread to any other buildings.

The 24-hour auto repair shop is one of about a dozen within a two-block area, according to Lou Naido, who works at R & N Collision, a neighboring store. The entrance to the Queensboro Bridge is just blocks away, and many cab drivers live in Long Island City or work from bases in the area.

"You've got to be careful when you're dealing with these flammable liquids," Naido said.

The shop damaged by the fire had been open for about two years and, like many of the shops that serve yellow cabs and livery cabs, it was open all night, Naido said.

There have not been any fires as serious in the area, but the building next to the blackened shop exploded due to a gas leak about five years ago, he said.

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