Look! Up in the air! UPDATE: Washington/St Johns Fire — Brooklynian

Look! Up in the air! UPDATE: Washington/St Johns Fire

For whom do the whirly-birds (I'm guessing NYPD) search on this beautiful and very early Saturday morning?

Comments

  • They're covering the huge fire on the corner of St. John's and Washington Avenue.

  • Wow! Okay. I didn't hear any sirens at all except for an ambulance racing up my block. I hope no one's hurt. Is it an NYPD copter or news?

  • I think it's NYPD or NYFD. Not sure.

  • It is an NYPD Chopper covering a huge fire on washington and st. johns. I woke up this am around 4 to huge flames out my window.

  • I hope everyone in the building is ok. That building has been under construction for quite a while. There are always old men sitting around underneath the scaffolding there...

  • My heart go's out to Ali's Laundromat and the guys from the deli. Hope they can rebuild their lives again.

  • Woke up to it too. I couldn't see the fire, but the sheer amount of fire engines made me realize it was extremely serious. No fatalities thankfully, but a firefighter was injured.

    ABC news story

    I also watched someone's YouTube video of the fire, but the link isn't working here.

  • Wow. Thanks for posting. This is terrible. I also thought it was a manhunt, didn't think it might be a fire.

  • holy shit.

    thank you for posting this; i heard the helicopters, too, and also assumed perp search.

    that video is terrifying.

    glad the building was empty; sounds like a fire fighter was hurt, though.

    i sure hope this was an accident. but i admit that i wonder.

  • I was told no fatalities by a fireman

  • The building is reduced to a shell.

    No floors or structural supports exist to keep the facade stable.

    It would not surprise me if DOB orders that it be torn down.

    Pre-fire, DOB had already mandated sidewalk scaffolding to protect pedestrians from the possibility of falling bricks and the like.

  • maybe richard meier will put up another building there now.

  • I predict the NYC supervised demolition crews will arrive today or tomorrow, and we will then have a vacant lot until we have a new owner.

    GOD said:

    My heart go's out to Ali's Laundromat and the guys from the deli. Hope they can rebuild their lives again.

    yup

  • wow that sucks.

    hmm wonder if there were squatters, alot of fires all over the country are cause by them heating things inside a building.

    besides that disgruntle former tenant or landlord for insurance money.

    or some worker left paint or cleaning supplies around that might be flammable or expose wiring etc...

  • I'm having a hard time figuring out which building this is/was. ABC News story says it was a seven-story building, but the video makes it look smaller than that.

    So glad no one was killed, because it looks like it was huge.

  • Seven apartments, maybe, but it's four floors: the corner store and then three stories atop that. It's on the southwest corner of Washington and St. John's, the one with those red clothes collection boxes outside.

    The exterior walls of the top three floors of the building next to it (on St. John's, going toward Underhill) had fallen in by the time I went by at 11:30 this morning. The big OEM bus was there, along with a few news crews.

    I hope nobody else gets hurt.

  • Using water pressure, exterior walls are being demolished by fire department over the last hour or so.

    A contracted demo crew will follow.

    ....when they are done a few days from now, it will be flat vacant lot surrounded by either plywood or a chain link fence.

  • Was walking to Tom's around 10 and saw this mess. That video....holy shit.

    I'm glad everyone seems to be ok...there looked to be quite a few apartments that had windows broken/damage. How terrifying.

  • I guess PETCO has a Prospect Heights location as well, now.

  • the flames consumed so much of our field of vision, we thought all of prospect heights was on fire, including our building when we woke up and looked out the window. the video I took was after the larger part of the flames, embers were flying for at least a block or two and we thought we would have to leave our building almost 400 feet (two streets) to the north.

    I am very surprised that it took so long for the FDNY to be called, we are very lucky that there is a station less than a block from the building; flames and embers were going across the street.

  • who needs a petco, hmm i think i could go for a arcade!!

  • For a third alarm or greater, an FDNY battalion chief is taken up in an NYPD helicopter for air reconnaissance (air recon).

    FYI--one of the first engine companies to respond (Engine 280 on 11th Street) is on the list to be closed due to budget cuts.

  • joeschmo said:

    I am very surprised that it took so long for the FDNY to be called, we are very lucky that there is a station less than a block from the building; flames and embers were going across the street.

    Unfortunately, I am not surprised. The FDNY responds when an automated alarm notifies them of an incident or someone calls 911. In this case, it would seem that none of the affected buildings had an alarm system and most of the people

    in the neighborhood were either asleep and didn't notice, or did notice and perhaps assumed the FDNY had already been called. This is quite a common phenomenon worldwide - everyone assumes someone will take care of it but no one does.

    Two possible solutions: First, most domestic, monitored security systems come with a smoke detector. If one of the businesses affected had one of these, the security company would have called the FDNY. Second, if people smell smoke (even at two or three in the morning) they should investigate and if there seems to be fire or you're unsure, call 911. The FDNY don't like malicious false alarms, but if you call 911 and say, I smell smoke at such and such a place, they will investigate.

  • My heart go's out to Ali's Laundromat and the guys from the deli. Hope they can rebuild their lives again.

    +1

  • Lori Heddinger, a professional photographer who lives right near the fire sent us amazing photos of the fire, which are now posted on our site, ProspectHeights.Patch.com

    http://patch.com/A-jbfh

    We have a reporter trying to get more information about how the fire started today.

  • according to ACRIS

    http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/Scripts/DocSearch.dll/BBLResult

    the owner of the property at 816 Washington Avenue is CPC Resources. The same developer who built the building on sterling between washington and classon, and who just got approval to develop the old domino sugar factory.

  • I was able to talk with one of the "city employees" at the site. He stated the fire dept has yet to determine the cause of the fire, and is in the process of analyzing video, burnt wood, etc to try to figure it out. He estimated it would take a few days, possibly a week.

    If they determine the cause is "likely suspicious", they will order that a very tedious, slow demolition of the building be done in order to scour it for evidence.

    If they determine the cause is "not likely suspicious", they will come in with heavy equipment to demolish what is left of the building and quickly haul the stuff away.

    Until either determination is made, they will have firemen and police on site to guard it.

    >>816 Washington is the building that burned, and the landlords have stated the building had no one living in it. Two businesses rented on the first floor (the laundry and the bodega). Perhaps needless to say, that building and its businesses are completely destroyed.

    >>>The residents of 820 Washington and 824 Washington have been displaced, and now reside with family, friends, hotels, or in a facility paid for by Red Cross. The first floor businesses of 820 and 824 are also closed. The DOB will determine when and whether they are able to return. The buildings are in need of extensive repairs.

  • One of my neighbors pointed out to me that the contractor who was doing the construction work had been doing asbestos removal - had pulled permits for it through the DOB - but wasn't following any asbestos abatement protocol (tenting the area, respirators, double sealed entrances to site, so on.) I haven't followed up about this but know from casually passing by the scaffold/site that it was being run a bit haphazardly (they were throwing the roofing materials, apparently the source of the asbestos, down the side of the building into the open area beside the building on St. Johns and then carrying it out to dumpsters.)

    If there were a strong and active community on St. Johns those issues could have been brought before the DOB and stop work orders issued. While it obviously wouldn't have prevented the fire (or arson) a strong community presence - on an issue as salient as asbestos removal - would have had an effect.

    On that same note that site is now going to be redeveloped. If St. Johns place can get its act together they can impact that process for the benefit of the block. That was a beautiful building that was burned - it should be replaced with the equivalent.

  • THX whynot, redheeler, and joeschmo for the info

    a friend of mine is a friend of one of the people who got burned out in adjacent building -- now her and her kid are in a hotel. If you're looking to help out, here's one way.

    Greetings Lovers,

    If you haven't heard, we have a poet in crisis and we're hoping our wonderful community can step up and help take care of business. Nuyorican Host and Poet extraordinaire Mahogany Browne was evacuated from her apartment due to a four-alarm fire that broke out next to her.

    The entire building collapsed. Thankfully, Mo and her daughter were able to get out safely, but the homes adjacent to the burned down building have been closed off while an investigation is in effect. Her family is now forced to live in a hotel indefinitely. The cost, of course, is astronomical, but when you factor in having to replace clothing and toiletries, phone chargers, school books, food, etc., the cost rises to an emergency level.

    I am a dunce when it comes to creating donation buttons that actually work, but time does not wait for the electronically challenged. So, Mo has agreed to let me accept donations on her behalf. If you can send money to help her and her family, even a dollar, please send it to: rachelmckibbens@gmail.com via Paypal. If you don't know how, simply log into your account, click the "Send Money" tab and enter the email address. Also, if you click on the "personal tab" once you set your donation, Paypal will not deduct any money from it. Feel free to repost this message far and wide. Thanks in advance.

    Love & Fire Drills,

    Rachel McK.

  • Please, please--if you are reading this, and don't have renter's insurance--GET IT. Many people don't know it exists, but it can make the difference between staying in a shelter and having a hotel, and it can help replace belongings lost due to disaster or theft. $15,000 worth of insurance costs under $20 a month.

  • @oshma good advice.

  • oshma said:

    Please, please--if you are reading this, and don't have renter's insurance--GET IT. Many people don't know it exists, but it can make the difference between staying in a shelter and having a hotel, and it can help replace belongings lost due to disaster or theft. $15,000 worth of insurance costs under $20 a month.

    YES YES YES.

    I get it from Allstate for less than $300/year

  • It goes without saying to make sure that you have adequate coverage and that you can afford the deductible. $15,000 sounds like a lot, but if you had to replace absolutely everything (clothes, furniture, food) that amount might not cover it. Friends of mine had a fire several years ago, and just the dry cleaning bill reached well over $1,000. Also, make sure your policy includes temporary housing. That was an addition to one policy that I had (really cheap, but still, it didn't come with the base coverage.)

  • Calabar Imports was located on the ground floor of 820, and the owner is hoping to get back in the space by August.

    If you are an artist, she'd love to hear from you.

    Details:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/atim-annette-oton/phoenix-rising-artists-for-a-relaunchreopening-exhibition-at-calabar-imports/10150267922590067

  • No fatalities except for the 2 deli cats that were living there, though we hope they were able to escape.

  • Coffee Bites (located in 824) has been given permission to reopen.

    They hope to reopen on Monday.

    This may mean that some of the residents of 824 may be allowed to return as well.

  • posted for historical purposes.

    I suspect this location may sport a new condo building as early as 2014.

  • any word on the bodega cats?

    Top 10 Bodega Cats Keeping Cool

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/top-10-bodega-cats-keeping-cool

  • Any word on the cause?

  • rezist-

    Based on steps that the "city employee" outlined to me, I have to assume the bored firemen are still awaiting a determination from their bosses.

    If the fire is declared to be an accident, I assume the bored firemen will disappear, and some heavy equipment operators will be given free reign to safely get rid of the pile of debris that presently fills the site.

    While the bosses continue to decide, I assume the firemen will remain bored on St. Johns.

    inpixels-

    I do not know the fate of the bodega's cats. However, based on your photos, I must ask: "Where does one go after heaven? Is there something even better being a bodega cat?"

  • I have a tip on purchasing Vita Coco in the KeyFood on Washington... *always* open the white cap to inspect the metal film to see that the Vita CoCo is not opened ---

    i'm not sure if its because of:

    A) a manufacturing defect

    B) that chubby kid is drinking them

    C) just the standard Washington Ave Key Food Caveat emptor


  • I put this image together last week to show my family and friends on facebook. Image of left is (obviously) a Google Maps screenshot, and the other is a pic I snapped last Saturday night on my way to First Night at Brooklyn Museum.

    http://i.imgur.com/viRh7.jpg (Imgur link for larger photo)

  • Stopped by Coffee Bites and the proprietor told me that the investigators found evidence of an accelerant.

  • wow.

    They'll likely do a thorough investigation of the rubble to make a determination as to whether "finding evidence of accelerant" is enough to declare the fire "arson"

    ...then they have to determine who set said fire.

    I hope the fire fighters don't have to continue be bored on St. Johns while all this works out. Can't they hire a security firm to staff a booth or something?

  • The owner of Calabar Imports types on facebook:

    Finally got into Calabar Imports. A good amount of damage on one side and no damage on the other side. It's a wonder to see it. Now that's the bad news.

    There is good news:

    Bar Sepia is planning a fundraiser for Calabar Imports, will know date in a few. Thanks Delissa...Will spend the day at site with building department as they shore up the wall. And might begin processes for renovation earlier than expected, thanks to the landlord's rep.

  • To my surprise, the bored fire fighters are now gone and have been replaced by heavy equipment operators attacking the rubble.

    I saw no visible signs of intense city supervision.

    Leading me to believe that the FDNY either found everything they needed to find, or found everything they think could be found.

  • arsons don't tend to get solved and i suppose the authorities don't waste a lot of time trying. you can look at who has the insurance policy to make an educated guess but proving it's another matter.

  • I am glad that at least the fire fighters no longer have to guard the site.

  • The building to the left of the site was heavily damaged, and has been undergoing repairs for months.

    The word is that it will have tenants once again in May. Calabar Imports will re open at that time.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Calabar-Imports/152493291482373?refid=7

  • As everyone is aware, the building in which the fire started was torn down.

    The fire also damaged the building next door, and the tenants had to live elsewhere while the repairs were done.

    Today's good news: Those repairs are now complete. The former tenants can soon move back in, and the scaffolding was taken down today.


  • As everyone is aware, the building in which the fire started was torn down.

    The fire also damaged the building next door, and the tenants had to live elsewhere while the repairs were done.

    Today's good news: Those repairs are now complete. The former tenants can soon move back in, and the scaffolding was taken down today.


  • Calabar Imports (the small boutique that occupied the ground floor of the "damaged, but not destroyed building") will re-open soon.

    http://www.calabar-imports.com/


  • coming "soon"

    http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2012/08/a-rendering-for-affordable-build-816-washington-ave/?stream=true

    Given the neighborhood's boom, I did not expect this property to remain vacant for long.

  • Top floor looks like crap in the rendering, but maybe it'll look better in reality...

    $1700 for a 4-bedroom apartment! Crazy... wish I could qualify for one of those, but I know I wouldn't.

  • The top floors will likely get views of Manhattan.

    ...and the apartments on the top floors are "new units" and, thus, won't have to be rented for the prior HCR rates, or subject to a lottery.

    I predict the rent these units, as well as the increased rent that will be obtained from the new ground floor commercial space will be enough for the landlord to have nice profit.

    Eventually, all of the units will become unstabilized, and then he will do VERY NICELY.

  • It's not bad at all. It reminds me of the Abigail's building, which I think is about as lovely and contextual a new construction as it gets around here.

    Like Abigail's, the top floor will not attract much attention from the street level, but will be easier to keep cool in the summer thanks to the more reflective pointing.

  • The original rendering rarely look much like the finished product, so I find it hard to think about how they look.

    Likewise, this owner has the right to build whatever meets code, and is not subject to my aesthetic preferences. ...so I find it hard to think about how it will look.

    The new, higher end storefront will certainly be welcome.

  • Do you want to go to a meeting about the proposed building?

    The NYC Board of Standards and Appeals has scheduled a public hearing on TUESDAY, NOV 28, 2012, 1:30 PM, at SPECTOR HALL, 22 READE STREET (MANHATTAN) for the following application:

    Variance to permit construction of a mixed-use affordable housing building with ground floor commercial use contrary to 23-851 (minimum inner court dimensions). C1-4/R7A zoning district.

    Address: 816 Washington Ave., SW corner of Washington & St. John's Place

    Applicant: Sheldon Lobel, for Prospect Equities Operation, LLC, owner

    Community Board: 8BK

  • Anything is better then the pit that's there now. Build it!

  • Update: As a result of the above meeting and other processes, the owner's request to have "ground floor commercial use contrary to 23-851 (minimum inner court dimensions). C1-4/R7A zoning district" was granted.



    Here's the text of the ruling:

    http://archive.citylaw.org/bsa/2013/01.18.13_DecJanDecisions/156-12-BZ.pdf

    I assume that the owners are now arranging financing and contractors, and hope that construction begins soon.

  • July 22, 2013

    A hopeful sign!

    Today, a large dumpster can be seen outside the lot. Workers have removed the debris that people have thrown over the fence for the past several years:

    doors, plywood, milk crates, crap of all varieties....

    Does this mean we will soon see a freshly printed Work Permit on the plywood, followed by an an excavator to remove the remains of the prior building for its "basement"?

    I hope so.

    No open building permits:

    http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/PropertyProfileOverviewServlet?boro=3&houseno=816&street=Washington+Avenue&go2=+GO+&requestid=0

    However, this Feb 2013 document seems to state an approved plan is on file: http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=3&passjobnumber=320373742&passdocnumber=01

    Here's the basics:

    District(s): R7A - GENERAL RESIDENCE DISTRICT

    Overlay(s): C1-4 - LOCAL RETAIL DISTRICT

    Special District(s):

    Map No.: 16cStreet legal width (ft.): 80Street status: Public Private

    Zoning lot includes the following tax lots: Not Provided

    Proposed: UseZoning Area (sq.ft.)DistrictFAR

    RESIDENTIAL 12,580 R7A 3.21

    COMMERCIAL 3,135 C1-4 0.74

    Proposed Totals: 15,715 -- 3.95

    Name:LARRY HIRSCHFIELD

    Relationship to Owner:MEMBER

    Business Name:PROSPECT EQUITIES OPERATING LLCBusiness Phone:718-855-5620

    Business Address:98 ROCKWELL PLACE 4TH FLOOR BROOKLYN NY 11238Business Fax:

    E-Mail:Owner Type:PARTNERSHIP
  • Aug 20, 2013:

    The dumpster was only in front of the site for a few days.

    They filled it up with the crap that has accumulated on the site, and then removed it.

    3 weeks later, and we still don't permits or an excavator.

    sadness.

  • Just out of curiosity, did the arsonists who burned the building ever get prosecuted?

  • I don't know if they concluded arson was the cause.

    But here is another video of the fire.


  • Until construction begins, the wall is becoming a popular place for street art:


This discussion has been closed.