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Resident Puts Out Small Fire in Front of Arepa Lady, Workers Give Thanks

Damage from small fire outside Arepa Lady (Photo: Brandon Klinger)

Jan. 13, 2021 By Christina Santucci

Workers at a popular Colombian restaurant in Jackson Heights are crediting an unidentified passerby with putting out a small fire in the eatery’s outdoor dining space.

“Thankfully the guy came in and stopped the fire,” said Brandon Klinger, who has worked at Arepa Lady for about two to three years. “If that would have caught on fire, the whole thing would have been unbearable.”

Klinger said he noticed fire damage when he arrived for work at the restaurant, located at 77-17 37th Avenue, Tuesday afternoon, and prepped the outdoor area for service.

“You could tell right away that there was burn marks from a fire,” he said, describing the debris on the wooden floor of the structure, which had been constructed to allow diners to eat outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surveillance footage from about 7 a.m. Tuesday morning appeared to show an unidentifiable person carrying items and bending over in the dining area at the time the fire began. Video of the individual as well as one showing the passerby who put out the fire were posted to the eatery’s Instagram account Wednesday.

The post also included a message to the passerby, “Whoever you are THANK YOU!!!”

Arepa Lady opened in its current location in 2018 after being forced to vacate from its previous outpost on Roosevelt Avenue. The restaurant was founded by Maria Cano, who had sold her wildly-popular arepas from a food cart on Roosevelt Avenue for 30 years.


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