Thursday, March 12, 2009


Fire at 215 East 4th Street

Not the coldest of nights tonight but at 34 degrees not a good night to be standing on the sidewalk in your bare feet . That's what some had to do tonight though thanks to a fire in their building .
Tonight at 9:30 or so a fire burned in the top floor of 215 East 4th Street . We could see a good bit of brownish smoke issuing from the front windows of the top floor . These windows had been broken out by FDNY to vent smoke and fumes . We saw no flames . We do not know at this time the extent or cause of the fire . The fire seemed to be mostly extinguished by 10:00 PM .

So far, my niece and friends are out on the street. The management of the apartment has of yet, made no arrangements to place them in another apartment. Our telephone calls have been met with rudeness, without help.
They have no belongings as all are wet from the water to douse the fire. More importantly, no place to live.
I don't if it still is, but as of recently, that building was managemed by Sterling Equities, owned and run by the Wilpon family, owners of the building and of the NY Mets. The Wilpons just built their brand new stadium for the Mets with millions in tax dollars AND they got a tax abatement (they don't have to pay any real estate taxes!!) So, in their entitled minds, why should THEY give a fuck about any of their tenants????
Please leave some info on what the victims in the fire might need. 4th street residents are looking for a way to help!
Thanks for all you kind thoughts and comments, we were set up with the red cross and have family here so we're well taken care of now. Everyone made it out alive, but it was pretty close... we're just happy to still have each other.
Actually, Fred Wilpon started the fire personally. Also, the people displaced were straight A students, survivors of ravaged Darfur, and had saved a number of handicapped people who fell onto subway tracks. SHE"S YOUR NEICE, DICK. LET HER STAY WITH YOU AND DON'T BLAME THE LANDLORD!
I don't blame the landlord or the manager. I blame the people who lit the candle and left it.
The Wilpons really do suck for leaving our Fourth street neighbors out in the cold!!!!
I don't blame the landlord either - he's a victim here - these jackasses lit his building on fire.
Yea, those ‘poor jackasses’ who lost everything in this fire. Where, if the building had any kind of smoke detectors never would have happened. Let's not forget to mention the fire escape that we had to climb down naked which was, in fact, totally unserviceable and almost more dangerous than the fire itself.

I was so touched by the compassion and camaraderie displayed by everyone involved in the rescue efforts that, amidst a sea of daily news reports that always seem to focus on a whirlwind of terror and instability in the world, I saw the kindness in humanity once more.

As a pararescueman in the Air Force and someone who is trained to deal with these kinds of situations, I would never pass blame to someone who was the victim of an unfortunate accident. That's simply immature and narrow minded.

But then again, you clearly sit around from the comfort of your couch armchair quarterbacking the misfortune of others and never actually contribute to any kind of greater good in these situations.

Your attitude is the same kind of outlook that breaks the loving bonds between people and leads to that same 'terror and instability' I mentioned earlier.
"Also, the people displaced were straight A students, survivors of ravaged Darfur, and had saved a number of handicapped people who fell onto subway tracks."

As a matter of fact 'anonymous', I was a straight A student and will be in the darfur region in less than 10 months preparing to rescue whatever unfortunate victims of the war ravaged horn of Africa may turn up. My team has rescued everyone from young afghani girls used as human shields by terrorists to fellow soldiers doing their best to maintain your way of life.

I would be careful in assuming things about the victims of accidents, because we are, as a matter of fact, not a bunch of clueless college students as you seem to be implying.

But then again I don't really have time to sit around patronizing other people with the kind of sarcastic and pretentious demeanor that can only be acquired through a lifetime spent worrying about oneself. The only thing I have time to do is prepare for the day that you or your family may be in grave danger and I will be honored to stand between you and that danger.
The building has smoke detectors on each floor in the stairwell, and two in each apartment. The hallway was totally renovated about a year ago and these installed because the former manager was selling the building. This is not a Sterling Equities building. I feel really sorry for the people who lost everything and are displaced.
I am glad everybody is safe and well.
After checking our archives, I discovered that this building is no longer owned by Sterling Equities.

As reported in SHADOW #51 in June of 2006: "The current landlord, Jonis Realty, acquired 158 Second Avenue [the site of the original Second Avenue Deli] in August 2005 for $18.635 million, as part of a $93 million real estate portfolio [including 215 East Fourth] purchased from the Wilpon family, which shrewdly sold its real estate holdings at the peak of the market. Owners of the NY Mets baseball team, the Wilpons are currently in the process of obtaining City Council approval for a new taxpayer-subsidized Mets stadium to be built next to Shea stadium in Queens."

By the way, it is disturbing that some assholes monitoring nmnl would blame and ridicule the victims of a fire.Heartless scum like you don't belong in our neighborhood!!
As a new 4th St. resident, I am happy that every one is ok, but leaving a candle lit in another room in your apartment while you have group sex in a shower is utterly irresponsible. And the group sex comment isn't a rumor - the person that started the fire was bragging about their activities to another resident of the building on Saturday.
Bob!,Is the guy that's gonna stand between me and danger the Batman!!!!
As a 14 year resident of this building I have seen quite a bit of shit! The new owners of the building aren't nearly as attentive as the previous 2 owners...scary I know. But I must say here that the gross negligence falls to the occupants of the apartment here. Regardless of the smoke alarm and fire escape situation that exists, your negligence with a candle and also not having a fire extinguisher has caused many, many people to be displaced due to your carelessness.

We can only imagine what was going on up there as you were forced to climb down the fire escape naked.

I was neither a straight A student, nor a victim of a ravaged country, but I did spend the day on Friday helping people move what was left of their belongings out of the building due to a selfish act that could have been avoided if proper protocol was maintained.

People are on this planet to help one another prior to tragic events, not put them in harms way.

Please, lets all use this a lesson in Fire Safety and stop playing the blame game here as it's over.

I will remain a resident of the building as luckily my damage was minimal. What I suggest is that we communicate together so as to be sure that the building management excercises due diligence in the repair and restoration of the building and peoples lives.

Thank goodness no one was seriously injured here!!!
I live down the block... Will someone post the details of how the fire started? Which apartment was it (top floor? front or back?) Did the flames spread to other apartments, hallway or stairwell? How many apartments were damaged and was it actual fire damage or water damage? Is the entire top floor gutted? Thank you.
I've been in this building for 20+ years, and have been through 3-4 landlords and two near- fires before this, via someone who enjoyed knocking back a couple of Xanax with a charadonnay while cooking a burger on full then napping while said burger burst into glorious flame (and almost the building with it). the second time it happened, the firemen had to shake her awake. Now, following this actual fire, this clueless pleading that she is a "Straight A" student and has been to "Darfur" as a testament to her sterling character and love and compassion for all mankind is pretty thin stuff, when the compassion was apparently limited to the mankind frolicing in the shower with little Miss Staight A as the curtains lit up like the 4th of July.
The top floor back apartment was the one that the fire came from. The fire totally damaged the unit. Not sure of the other 4 apartments on that level but I am clear they needed to move out. Roof has hole in it. Water damage to the unit directly below on 5th floor was 100%. (Nothing to salvage)Several others on the 5th floor have significant water damage.
Some on 4th floor and I believe 3rd floor have water damage as well. GREAT photos
Most of the old buildings in the neighborhood are made from wood lathe that lines our walls, as shown in those photos. The wood is now so old and dry it's like a tinderbox in there. I've noticed when they gut renovate, they replace the lathe with metal framework. I'm sure it's a much cheaper solution, as it is all prefab and that lathe was handmade, but I also wonder if it is more fire resistant and helps retard the spread of fire in the walls. Anybody know about this?
Jill , when they use steel studs they are usually doing so because this light gauge steel framing is less expensive than wood .

though the steel doesn't burn it will lose strength as the temperature rises .Thus light gauge steel systems carrying structural loads can actually be more dangerous than wood structural systems if the drywall fire safeing is breached.FDNY is well aware of this . These light gauge steel systems are , or were recently , I belive under investigation in NYC

The drywall , being a hydrated gypsum mix that evolves water when heated , is considered the fire protection for wood or steel studs in these renovated buildings .

Many times if a building has larger structural timbers and thick wooden floors the fire does less structural damage . Wood in these heavy structures does not fail as quickly and easily structurally at high heat as a light gauge steel framed structure ; it chars at roughly 3/4 inch per hour thus leaving considerable support capacity if the fire is extinguished quickly .

Generally a building built of wood framing , interior floor joists and partitions ,is considered less hazardous to fire fight in than a light gauge steel structure .If some portion of the steel structure gets too hot due to a breach in the drywall fire safeing it simply collapses . this can happen with in 10 minutes in these small renovated buildings .

I do not know what the situation was in this building but I did discuss just this subject of light gauge steel with an FDNY captain at the site the next day .My understanding is that FDNY generally concurs with what is stated above .

I can go on here for some time , this is a hot topic with fire departtments across the country, but I won't .

There is a post here at NMNL from a year or so ago titled something like "Fire at Benjamin Shaouls 120 St Marks Place" in which I go into more detail on this subject .

FDNY , from our discussions with personnel , is not happy with much of the last few years of renovations and new constructions in NYC , especially in the outer buroughs . .
Excellent overview as I was wondering about those steel frames they are using because now our building is a total mixture, but the giant wood beams are intact. Thanks for the info. I'll go put out the candles now (kidding).
so who is the culprit here exactly? put them on front street as they deserve to be.
i was one of the residents on the 6th floor who was forced to move. the landlord has made no effort to repair the damage. calls are never returned. i finally filed a case in housing court. at the first hearing last week, the lawyer for the landlord asked for an adjournment of 4 to 6 weeks because "this just happened!" and "the landlord is trying to get money from insurance". the judge summarily dismissed these arguments (the fire was march 12th!) and gave them exactly one week to come up with a deadline for completion of repairs. i am going to court on tuesday. the landlord is supposed to give a firm date for repairs.
the very competent sounding HPD (housing preservation dept) lawyer at housing court told me that he sees these cases regularly and landlords display the same behavior each time. his suggestion was to organize the residents, if possible.
if there are any residents who see this post, please organize so we can get the building in livable shape and get rid of the awful smell and possible environmental damage.
So what ever happened to my old 6th floor stomping grounds? I lived across the hall from the fire starters. The landlord was one of the biggest pieces of garbage I had ever met-- day 1 post fire he threatened me when I asked why no alarms sounded and what that meant to all my possessions destroyed-- I have since moved on. But I'm curious how everyone else is doing and if that bastard was sued.
My daughter and her girlfriend are in the midst of signing a lease for a renovated apt on the 5th floor of this building,is this a bad idea based on what i have read the landlords did not handle his tenants with care after the fire. Please give me your thoughts so i canpass it on to my daughter. i am concerned!
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