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Workers escape fire at E. Farmingdale building

Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that gutted an East Farmingdale commercial building Tuesday morning, officials said.

The two-story building, which housed three companies including an audio installation company and an equipment supply company, is located at 280 Route 109 across from Republic Airport. The building and nearby businesses were evacuated after the fire broke out, fire officials said.

Click here for photos of the East Farmingdale fire

An employee of Audio Unlimited, the audio installation company, called to report the fire at 7:28 a.m., fire officials said. The fire was under control by 10:30 a.m.

Paul Lichtenberg, an audio-visual technician, said he had been at work since 7 a.m. when he noticed smoke around 7:20 a.m. as he worked at the back of the building.

"I could see flames through the window," said Lichtenberg, 31, of Baldwin.

He called 911 and he and four co-workers made sure everyone was out of the building, Lichtenberg said.

James Giordano, owner of Advanced Business Equipment, said he was inside his office, unaware of the fire until he saw the flames spreading through the building.

"I lost everything. But I'm fortunate to get out," said Giordano, 30, of Lindenhurst.

Around 170 firefighters from seven fire departments from Nassau and Suffolk counties responded to the scene with at least 25 units, fire officials said.

The fire shut down all lanes of Route 109 in both directions.

Assistant Chief Michael Killbridge of the East Farmingdale Fire Department said that the fire may have started in the rear of the building.

The Suffolk County arson squad was at the building as a precaution, Killbridge said.

Click here for photos of the East Farmingdale fire

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