About 200 firefighters battled the blaze for almost six hours before bringing it under control just before midnight. Hot spots persisted through early Tuesday, and two tower ladders were dousing the building with water.
Fire officials say the blaze began around 5:45 p.m. on the third floor of the 4-story building on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Reponsders were on scene in four minutes, but flames were already shooting out the window and the fire was spreading quickly because of the wind.
The third and fourth floors are a total loss, while the first and second have extensive water damage.
Plaza College, a four-year accredited college, is located in the building. Officials posted a note on the school Facebook page saying everyone was evacuated safely and that there will be no service at the school tomorrow.
Numerous ground-floor businesses, including two restaurants, a pharmacy and a jewelry store, were damaged.
A fire department spokesman says a child who lived in a nearby building was taken to a hospital to be evaluated, and a firefighter suffered a minor injury.
A police officer who was at the scene also suffered minor smoke inhalation.
The Red Cross is assisting 12 residents from a building across the street that had to be evacuated due to carbon monoxide levels.
There is no word on what caused the fire.