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EXCLUSIVE! FDNY report: Unextinguished ember reignited, destroyed CitiStorage

On the scene: Firefighters battle the CitiStorage blaze.
Brooklyn Paper
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Two Williamsburg waterfront warehouses burned down last year after firefighters failed to extinguish burning embers from a smaller blaze there hours earlier, according to two long-awaited reports acquired by this paper.

The reveal comes on the heels of a lawsuit that also alleges the Bravest made things worse by shutting off the water supply to the entire building after the first fire, so sprinklers were out of order when the fire reignited.

The reports — which investigators signed off on on Jan. 8, despite department reps insisting the investigation was ongoing for weeks afterward — finally provide some answers about the massive inferno that blazed through two CitiStorage warehouses on Jan. 31 last year, which neighbors and victims have been demanding from fire brass for months.

According to the first report, a light fixture triggered the initial fire at one warehouse on N. 11th Street at 4:29 am, igniting some cardboard boxes in a metal storage rack, then spreading up a wood pallet and through stacks of boxes across several levels of the building.

The report does not say how the first flames were subdued — indeed, it does not say they were subdued at all — but the initial incident report says the warehouse’s sprinkler system controlled the flames and firefighters then doused the smouldering debris.

A suit from storage outfit Recall Holdings, one of the companies using the warehouse, claims the firefighters then turned off the water to the entire property’s sprinkler system — making it inoperable — instead of simply blocking off the handful of sprinklers activated by the small fire.

The crews then finished their work at 5:45 am, according to the initial incident report.

The fire then reignited at 6:28 am, according to the second department report, and the conflagration spread through the N. 11th Street warehouse — including the thousands of government and other documents it contained — then on to the neighboring N. 12th Street warehouse where building owner Norman Brodsky and his wife Elaine lived at the time.

The report, which states the second fire was “confined and extinguish­ed,” cites the cause of the blaze only as “brands” — burning material left over from a previous fire.

Brodsky recently filed a $3-million lawsuit against Recall and a second tenant, CitiPostal, over the loss of his home and belongings on Jan. 15, claiming the storage companies were responsible for maintaining the space and therefore the pyre that engulfed it.

But Recall’s $50-million suit, filed on Jan. 29, points the finger at the Fire Department, claiming it screwed up both by turning off the entire sprinkler system and failing to fully extinguish the first fire.

A department spokeswoman claimed that the firefighters were just following protocol, and the sprinklers were the building’s responsibility.

“It is necessary for the fire department to completely deactivate the system, and it is the facility’s responsibility to call the sprinkler company to reactivate,” said Elisheva Zakheim.

Zakheim also claimed the firefighters did fully extinguish the initial flames and denied the connection between the two fires, saying they are separate incidents that occurred 15 to 20 feet apart in a very large warehouse.

“The firefighters followed protocol and proceeded to extinguish the fire completely,” she said.

The rep also claimed the report detailing the incidents — which are marked as “case closed” — are not finalized and that investigators are still looking into potential causes of the second blaze. She later e-mailed to say the cases are, indeed, closed.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated with more comments from the FDNY, and local residents.
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Reasonable discourse

Bob says:
Yeah sure, it called arson. The most expensive real estate aera in Brooklyn and they think it's the fireman fault. Shamless
Feb. 3, 2016, 11 am
Donnie from Williamsburg says:
These Firemen and Firewomen get paid a lot of money to put out fires they should get it right the first time. Cityworkers are the worst.
Feb. 3, 2016, 12:10 pm
Karl from Astoria says:
What started the Fires????
Feb. 3, 2016, 12:17 pm
Steve R says:
Case closed doesn't mean it's finalized?
Feb. 3, 2016, 12:46 pm
Dale from Williamsburg says:
Let's see who buys that property. Probably going to build a billion dollar apartment building. How convienient is that. Need the FBI to investigate this one.
Feb. 3, 2016, 2:08 pm
makemoneymakemoney from Brooklyn says:
There is no more efficient arsonist than the Fire Department.
Feb. 3, 2016, 2:59 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
The firemen did not start the fire. Who started the fire that conveniently afforded a developer a possible windfall of profit?
Feb. 3, 2016, 3:13 pm
Leo says:
I wonder if they flew the arsonist out of the country as they did up with that Guttman arson in Greenpoint a few years ago. Someone that would do it for a bottle of cheap vodka , and family still back in the old country.
Feb. 3, 2016, 3:18 pm
Matt from Bronx says:
The same building that housed records pertaining to the Sheldon Silver case of fraud?? Yeah....it was the firemens fault though...... Wake up people.
Feb. 3, 2016, 4:28 pm
BK Quaker from Bronx says:
The NYPD dropped the ball on this one. The cops need to re-open the case.
Feb. 3, 2016, 6:26 pm
Ralph feezer from Williamsburg says:
The cops need to have a task force to investigate these fires. This will happen more and more unless they do. It wouldn't surprise me if we found out someone was bought off.
Feb. 3, 2016, 6:30 pm
Who dun it from ENY says:
The whole city crooked. Probably everybody be gettin paid off. The Mayor probably going to get the penthouse of the new building.
Feb. 3, 2016, 6:33 pm
Sammy from Chew Chew says:
Wouldn't the owner have profited regardless of the fire?
Feb. 3, 2016, 9:02 pm
I don't like Donnie from Bushwick says:
Your an —— Donnie, you undereducated dickhead
Feb. 3, 2016, 10:27 pm
Donnie from Williamsburg says:
The NYPD said this was a light fixture WTF do they know about fires. And how the —— can you tell what started that —— the whole building burnt down. City workers are the worst.
Feb. 4, 2016, 10:47 pm
Truth from Staten Island says:
Sounds like the FDNY f'ed themselves. Millions of dollars in damage from a fire that re-ignited after they left. The NYPD said the fire started from a light they knew it would make the FDNY look bad that's why that happen. Now the FDNY loses lots of money because of the NYPD reports.
Feb. 7, 2016, 6:04 pm

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