Today’s news:

Blaze erupts in Bell Boulevard gift shop

An electrical basement fire spread to the ground floor of the Top Drawer gift shop on Bell Boulevard Wednesday afternoon, causing heavy damage to the store and filling the Papazzio restaurant next door with smoke.

No one was injured in the 2:07 p.m. fire, said Deputy Chief John Acerno of the Fire Department’s 14th Division.

The cause of the afternoon blaze was not immediately established by firefighters at the scene, but Acerno said the one-alarm fire was an electrical fire in a basement meter room that spread to the first floor.

He said the fire caused heavy damage to the inside of Top Drawer at 39-36 Bell Blvd., but only a few people were evacuated from the store at street level and an apartment upstairs.

A Fire Department spokesman was placed under control at 2:38 p.m. He said the fire was centered in the basement of Top Drawer.

Firefighters taped off a manhole that had been smoking in front of Top Drawer and Papazzio, the Italian restaurant next door.

“It’s filled with smoke,” Papazzio owner Dominick Bruccoleri said of his eatery. Bruccoleri’s 39 East venture just a block away in the old Bayside Movie Theatre sustained heavy water damage in November that delayed the new restaurant’s opening.

A Papazzio employee said no lunch customers were left in the restaurant at the time the blaze broke out.

William Degel, owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse two doors down from the fire, said his computer shut off and the lights in his office went out.

A large crowd of bystanders gathered to watch as several fire trucks responded and firefighters ascended to the roof of the building with ladders.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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