Fire breaks out at Union Square building

Photo via Google Maps

By Sabina Mollot

The FDNY is investigating a fire that broke out at a high-rise building in Union Square on Monday morning.

Eighty-four firefighters from 26 units responded to the “all hands” fire at 8:10 a.m., but according to the FDNY, it was under control in 31 minutes. The fire was on the seventh floor of the commercial building, 25 East 15th Street on the west side of Union Square Park. A spokesperson for the fire department said it is standard for that many firefighters to respond to any fire at a high-rise. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is still being determined.

After putting out the blaze, the FDNY sent out an emailed alert to warn New Yorkers to expect smoke and traffic delays in the area as well as emergency vehicles.

Advertisements

Fire destroys Stuy Town apartment

Fire at 287 Avenue C (Photo by Sugi Tabero)

By Sabina Mollot

A fire ripped through an apartment in Stuyvesant Town on Thursday afternoon, destroying it, although fortunately no one was hurt. Additionally, public safety officers were able to rescue the affected family’s Boston terrier.

A spokesperson for the FDNY said the fire at 287 Avenue C was caused by a candle in the fourth-floor apartment. After getting the call about the fire at 12:45 p.m., firefighters were at the scene in under four minutes and got the fire under control in about 35 minutes.

Continue reading

Fire next door to T&V office

FDNY in front of T&V’s office at 20 West 22nd Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village’s office on West 22nd Street was evacuated on Thursday afternoon when a fire was reported in a neighboring building. The FDNY determined that the incident was a duct fire inside Cote, the restaurant on the ground floor of the 12-story building at 16 West 22nd Street. It was originally reported as an electrical fire with a light smoke condition at the scene. Other office workers on the ninth floor reported smelling smoke inside the building but the smell did not reach T&V’s offices on the 15th floor.

The FDNY said that 12 units, which include fire trucks and ambulances, responded to the scene, as well as 60 fire and EMS personnel. Fire marshals are investigating the incident but a spokesperson for the FDNY said that officials believe it was a grease fire.

The FDNY said that the situation was under control by 1:25 p.m. and no injuries were reported.

Kips Bay fire that killed two dogs was electrical

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A fire in Kips Bay that killed two dogs but left no residents injured was electrical, the FDNY said.

A spokesperson for the FDNY told Town & Village there was a problem with the electrical wiring in the ceiling of a fourth-floor apartment.

The fire had broken out in a four-story building at 122 Lexington Avenue on Monday, the day after Christmas.

The New York Post reported that the blaze started in a fourth floor apartment of the building, which is near East 28th Street, and spread to the third floor and roof, also damaging a restaurant on the ground.

Officials told the Post that residents were not able to return to their apartments on the third and fourth floors on Monday night but apartments on the second floor may still have been habitable.

The FDNY said that the fire started around 6 p.m. and was under control about 20 minutes later. Three firefighters were sent to Bellevue with non-life-threatening injuries.

Epiphany looks back on blaze that destroyed original church

Firefighters put out the fire that destroyed the Epiphany Church’s original location in 1963. Fifty years ago, the church reopened in a new location. (Town & Village photo)

Firefighters put out the fire that destroyed the Epiphany Church’s original location in 1963. Fifty years ago, the church reopened in a new location. (Town & Village photo)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Epiphany Church on Second Avenue will be celebrating a number of milestone anniversaries in the next year, beginning with the 50th anniversary this coming week of the congregation’s reopening after a devastating fire. The blaze gutted the church only five days before Christmas in 1963, on December 20, destroying a landmarked building that had been in the neighborhood since 1870. The church was able to reopen exactly three years later in 1966.

“The new building didn’t even have pews for that first mass, just folding chairs, but they wanted to have the service on the same day as the fire to show how quickly the community came together,” parishioner Richard Sawicki said of the new building’s reopening.

Sawicki, who currently lives on Second Avenue across from Epiphany, was not a member of the church at the time of the fire but joined the congregation not long after the new building opened, and has been interested in the church’s history for a number of years.

Continue reading

Fire at NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

By Sabina Mollot and Maria Rocha-Buschel

A fire broke out at the NYU Langone Medical Center on Wednesday at around noon, on a construction site at the facility.

A spokesperson for the hospital said it was not a patient area and no patients were injured in the fire, which was extinguished by 1 p.m.

The fire started on the seventh floor rooftop where a new hospital building, scheduled to open in 2018, is under construction.

According to spokesperson Lisa Grenier, the fire was confined to this area. However, as a precaution, some patients in rooms on the north side of Tisch Hospital facing the construction were moved to the south side of the floor.

“They have since been located back to their rooms,” Grenier said. “Currently we are investigating cause and the extent of damage.”

An emailed alert from the city said area residents should expect smoke, traffic delays due to the presence of emergency responders. Neighbors were advised to close their windows and not linger outside.

The hospital is located at First Avenue and East 30th Street.

Kips Bay fire displaces residents on Thanksgiving weekend

fireman-in-store

A firefighter at the scene (Photos by Michelle Deal Winfield)

 

By Michelle Deal Winfield

Residents were forced to flee their apartments when a fire broke out at a five-story building on Friday morning.

The blaze began at 238 East 24th Street at around 3:45 a.m. on the fourth and fifth floors, and soon smoke filled the air for blocks.

As firefighters fought to control the blaze, one resident was in front of the building in tears, wondering how she could salvage her clothing and valuables. The building’s owner was at the scene comforting residents concerned about their belongings. A couple visiting a relative said the woman’s cousin and his fiancée lived there but were vacationing in New Hampshire during the holidays.

One of the firefighters at the scene commented, “We were lucky here. Most of the residents were away on vacation. No one was hurt.”

After firefighters vented the roof; the fire was located and shortly before 5 a.m., it was extinguished. A spokesperson for the FDNY said the cause was still under investigation. Over 100 firefighters had responded to the fire.

Continue reading

On 50th anniversary, FDNY remembers the 23rd Street fire

 

By Sabina Mollot

Fifty years ago on Monday, October 17, twelve firefighters lost their lives battling a blaze in Flatiron, making the date the deadliest the department would ever know until 9/11.

The fire, which was hidden at first due to illegal building alterations, had prevented firefighters from knowing just what a dangerous situation they were in for.

On Monday, dozens of fire officials and rank and file, along with family members of the fallen firemen, gathered at the Flatiron Plaza for a remembrance ceremony and then a wreath laying at the site of the fire at the corner of 23rd Street and Broadway. Today, it’s home to a high-rise residential building with a plaque alongside it memorializing the deceased firemen.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro spoke at the ceremony about how the 1966 fire is still a big part of training for firefighters today.

“Every probationary firefighter learns about this in the academy; 23rd Street has been the subject of countless drills,” the commissioner said. “This was the department’s darkest tragedy… and remained so until 9/11.”

Continue reading

Landmarked Flatiron church gutted by fire

Police at the scene of the fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava closed off the block in case the destroyed church on West 25th Street collapsed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Police at the scene of the fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava closed off the block in case the destroyed church on West 25th Street collapsed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A four-alarm fire gutted a Serbian Orthodox church at 24 West 25th Street on Sunday evening, following services earlier that day that took place for Orthodox Easter. Because the services ended earlier in the afternoon, no one was inside the church at the time the fire broke out around 6:50 p.m. but the blaze left the interior of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in shambles, burning the roof off of the landmarked structure that has been in the neighborhood since 1855. FDNY said that one civilian and four firefighters were taken to Bellevue Hospital for smoke inhalation and no other injuries were reported.

Police at the scene on Monday morning said that the street would be closed until investigators could determine that the remaining part of the building still standing was structurally sound and wouldn’t collapse. The officer noted that a collapse was unlikely but the street remained closed as a precaution. Only employees working at buildings on the street were allowed past the police barricades. FDNY noted on Wednesday morning that the cause is still under investigation but the fire is considered non-suspicious.

Continue reading

Stuy Town man facing eviction for starting fires

653 East 14th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

653 East 14th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge filed a lawsuit against a longtime Stuyvesant Town tenant at the beginning of this month because the resident has reportedly had a history of terrifying his neighbors with erratic behavior and setting fires in his apartment.

The New York Post originally reported the lawsuit between the owner and resident Max Chalawsky last Sunday and the suit was filed on April 1. The landlord, officially referred to as BPP ST in the suit, is seeking permanent injunctive relief and damages against Chalawsky because of his “severely destructive behavior” detailed in the suit, which included leaving pots unattended on a gas stove and reconnecting gas lines. The suit also alleges that Chalawsky behaved menacingly towards his neighbors and building personnel and it seeks an injunction to bar him from tampering with the gas lines, as well as damages no less than $25,000.

The suit noted nine different incidents since last year that variously involved the NYPD, FDNY, EMS, other tenants and staff in his building. Five of the incidents resulted in his being taken to Bellevue or Beth Israel for observation and in a more than one instance, Chalawsky reportedly removed a cap that had been placed on his gas line.

Continue reading

Transformer fire prompts evacuation at NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

By Sabina Mollot

A transformer fire broke out at NYU Langone Medical Center Thursday afternoon, leading to partial evacuation of the facility.

No one was injured, and the FDNY and Con Ed have both responded to the scene.

A spokesperson for the Fire Department said the call came in at 3:43 p.m. but he did not know what the cause of the transformer fire was. A spokesperson for the hospital, at First Avenue and 30th Street, said she didn’t know either, but issued the following statement:

A smoke situation has occurred due to a transformer fire in a non-patient area at NYU Langone. Out of caution a non-patient facility was evacuated, and no injuries have been reported. FDNY is on site and the situation is under control – there is no danger to patients or NYU Langone faculty and staff.”

A spokesperson for Con Ed said at 5:30 p.m. that a team had just been dispatched to the hospital a half hour earlier, and that as far as he knew, there was no power disruption. He also said the utility still wasn’t sure if the incident involved any Con Ed equipment.

Aug6 NYU Langone

East Village recovering from explosion, DA starts investigation

Firefighters work to put out last Thursday’s deadly fire. (Photo by Robert Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)

Firefighters work to put out last Thursday’s deadly fire. (Photo by Robert Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

One week ago on Thursday, three buildings on Second Avenue near East 7th Street collapsed due to an explosion and fire last Thursday that killed two people. The first two buildings to collapse were 121 and 123 Second Avenue on Thursday afternoon and the fire that followed the explosion largely gutted the third building involved, 119 Second Avenue. Firefighters at the scene demolished the parts of the building’s façade that remained standing with water on Thursday evening, The New York Times reported.

The FDNY had gotten the emergency call from 125 Second Avenue at 3:17 p.m. and while that building did not collapse, it was heavily fire damaged, although additional information about the conditions was not immediately available.

The mayor confirmed last Thursday evening that the explosion was caused by plumbing and gas work that was going on in 121 Second Avenue and Con Edison said on Thursday that the building had failed an inspection earlier that day.

Continue reading

Major explosion causes building collapse, fire on Second Ave. at East 7th

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A building on Second Avenue near East 7th Street has collapsed due to an explosion and fire earlier this afternoon, the FDNY confirmed. The collapse occurred at 123 Second Avenue and  FDNY said that 121 Second Avenue had also partially collapsed, but it was unclear whether this was a direct result of the explosion or occurred later. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference on Thursday evening that 119 and 125 Second Avenue have also been affected, and FDNY said that the emergency call came from 125 Second Avenue at 3:17 p.m. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the area around 119 Second Avenue was vacated because of a possible collapse of that building as well, as a result of the fire that extended there following the explosion.

The FDNY does not know the cause of the incident yet but police at the scene said that it was consistent with a gas explosion. The mayor confirmed that explosion appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was going on in 121 Second Avenue, but the investigation is still ongoing. The mayor added that the FDNY is dealing with a seven-alarm incident and have contained fires in all four of the buildings so far. 

Second Avenue was closed from East 14th Street to Houston after the explosion. The affected buildings included a number of apartments as well as restaurants Sushi Park at 121 Second Ave. and Pommes Frites at 123 Second Ave.

Notify NYC reported that the New York City Unified Victim Identification System (UVIS) was activated in response to the fire. Anyone concerned about the welfare of someone who may have been affected by the collapse and are unable to contact them should call 311. From outside of NYC, relatives and friends can call (212) 639-9675. The American Red Cross has also opened a reception center at P.S. 63 at 121 East 3rd Street in Manhattan.

“Today our community’s heart is breaking,” Council Member Rosie Mendez said in response to the tragedy. “My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy. I am working closely with emergency services, my colleagues in government and with community leaders to respond to this horrible event. I thank the people of New York for the outpouring of concern and support. We pray for the victims and their families.”

On Thursday evening, Con Ed also issued a statement, noting the building had failed an inspection.

“Con Edison is working with fire officials and other agencies at the scene of today’s explosion and building collapse on 2nd Avenue near 7th Street in the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan,” the utility said.

“Earlier today, Con Edison personnel were at the location to evaluate work the building plumber was doing inside 121 2nd Ave. in connection with a gas service upgrade. The work failed our inspection for several reasons, including insufficient spacing for the installation of the meter in the basement.

“We had no reports of gas odors in the area prior to the fire and explosion. A survey conducted yesterday of the gas mains on the block found no leaks. We continue to work with all agencies on the investigation into the cause, and we are praying for the recovery of all the injured.”

Fire at Stuy Town Associated supermarket

Associated supermarket (Photo via Foursquare)

Associated supermarket (Photo via Foursquare)

By Sabina Mollot

Now those are some hot peppers!

On Monday, firefighters put out a fire at the Associated supermarket in Stuyvesant Town that had started in the produce section’s pepper display.

Store manager Norman Quintanilla told Town & Village it was a small fire, so small in fact that it was snuffed out just using a fire extinguisher. The cause was apparently a burnt wire that had shorted out behind the produce case.

“It was a small, little fire,” said Quintanilla. “Mostly smoke.”

The fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. when the store was closed but an employee who was on duty at the time smelled smoke.

He called the FDNY, and Quintanilla said by the time he got there at 4 a.m., the fire was out. The FDNY had to break the door to gain entry, but by 5 a.m., a worker had arrived to fix the door. Quintanilla said on Tuesday that the only damage to the store was to a four-foot section of the produce case but he said employees have since cleaned it up.

“There was a slight smell, but now it’s gone,” he said.

A spokesperson for the FDNY confirmed that the fire, which was responded to by 30 firefighters, was electrical. The spokesperson added that the fire was actually extinguished before the department’s arrival. Quintanilla noted that the responders checked out the area behind produce section to make sure it wasn’t smoldering anywhere else.

Fire starts in microwave in Peter Cooper Village

Karen Moline opens the destroyed microwave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Karen Moline opens the destroyed microwave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Wednesday, August 27, a fire broke out in a Peter Cooper Village building that had started in a microwave. No one was injured and the fire, at 4 Peter Cooper Road, eventually burned itself out, even before Public Safety officers quickly arrived with a fire extinguisher. As for why it happened, that hasn’t been determined.

However, the resident of the apartment, Karen Moline, said she believes it was due to a problem with a defective appliance.

According to her, when the fire started, the Microwave had been turned off with nothing inside. Though that might sound odd, Moline said this isn’t the first time she’s had a problem with the electrical appliances in the apartment, where she’s lived for 10 years. Once, her freezer started smoking due to the fan belt blowing out. There’s also the air conditioner in the living room, which she said has been known to turn itself on. It’s now kept unplugged when not in use.

Unrelated though equally worrisome, the apartment also had a problem with black mold last year. The apartment was renovated during the Met Life era.

As for the recent fire, it was Moline’s 13-year-old son, Emmanuel, who discovered it. He’d been boiling water on the stove for pasta while she was in the living room.

“He called out at me in a panic, and said, ‘Ma, there’s a fire.”

Moline then saw for herself that “the whole interior was in flames.” Moline then called 911 while Emmanuel got on his cell and called the Public Safety department.

Public Safety officers got to the apartment first, then the Fire Department arrived (in slightly under four minutes after receiving the call). By then the fire had burnt itself out, since no one opened the microwave door. Moline said the fire was “active” for about four minutes. Oddly, the smoke alarm never went off.

Once firefighters arrived, they went to turn off the apartment’s fuses and saw that the fuses in the box were mislabeled. Later, engineers from Stuyvesant Town were at the scene and, said Moline, they found the wrongly labeled fuses “unbelievable. They were furious on my behalf.” The fuses have since been relabeled.

Though everyone who’d responded “couldn’t be nicer”, she said, one management employee who responded was skeptical when she told him there had been no food in the microwave.

Still, she understood how someone could be incredulous.

“He was the only one who looked at me like I was a liar. A Microwave spontaneously catching on fire? It is unbelievable. But if you’re the one person it happens to, it’s scary. What if I wasn’t home? Kids know to call 911, but when you panic, you’re not always thinking straight.”

On Monday, workers removed the microwave, the ceiling of which was scorched with pieces peeling off, and replaced it with a new one.

“I used it for 30 seconds. It hasn’t caught fire yet,” Moline joked.

As for the old microwave, Moline also said she was told by a service rep for GE that the company hadn’t had a recall for that model, numbered JNM1541DM5WW. She also said the person she spoke with told her no one would be able to say what the problem had been without looking at the microwave. The employee offered to have a technician look at it as soon as Tuesday if management requested it. However, Moline said she just wanted the appliance gone.

A spokesperson for GE, Kim Freeman, also told T&V there was no way to determine the problem without checking the appliance. However, she added that the “vast majority” of the time when there’s a fire, it is because of food.

“I can’t say anything about this particular issue because we didn’t get a chance to look at the unit,” she said, “but generally with microwave fires, it is food related, overcooked food.”

“They are electrical appliances and any electrical appliances could have an issue,” she added.

A spokesperson for the Fire Department told T&V the FDNY was not aware of similar incidents or of the cause of the incident, which was referred to as “an electrical emergency.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Moline said she’s got some advice for management. “If you want to make money, spending money on good appliances is cost effective in the long run,” she said.