Blame the hoarders? Massive fire destroys Conselyea St building

Blame the hoarders? Massive fire destroys Conselyea St building
Photo by Brittany Somerset

A massive fire ripped through a Conselyea Street building on Feb. 7 — and hoarding may be to blame.

FDNY officials said trash and unwanted materials kept inside a long-shuttered laundry on the bottom floor of the building between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street fueled the 12:31 pm blaze, which caused the roof to collapse and seriously damaged the façade of an adjoining building.

“The entire second floor was on fire,” Brooklyn FDNY Deputy Chief James Leonard explained after 138 firefighters spent more than 90 minutes extinguishing the blaze.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury beating back the blaze.

Panicked neighbors — some of which were found weeping as they watched the fire consume the 85-year-old building — thought a longtime building resident had perished inside, but the tenant was ultimately located, according to an FDNY spokesman.

“He had spent the afternoon in the library,” the spokesman said.

The cause of the fire remained unclear by late Monday, but Chief Leonard claimed that the Conselyea Street fire had ‘Collyer’s Mansion’ traits — a reference to the infamous Collyer brothers, notorious hoarders who were found dead inside their Harlem brownstone in 1947 amid 130 tons of newspapers, magazines, books and furniture they had squirrelled away throughout their lives.

The Conselyea Street building, built in 1926, housed a Sicilian bakery until the mid-1950s. A dry cleaning business soon moved into the spot, but ultimately closed in the 1970s.

The storefront shop has remained empty ever since, neighbors said.

Hoarding is apparently not uncommon in Williamsburg. Just last month, two silkscreen artists were indicted for hoarding 100 cats in a fetid, filth-strewn Metropolitan Avenue loft.

The hoarding was discovered when the cats actually fell through the rotting, urine-saturated floorboards to the Camel Art Space below.

Firefighters battled a blaze on Conselyea Street in Williamsburg on Monday afternoon. A FDNY official said that no one was injured, but one person was missing.
Photo by Brittany Somerset