Once authorities decide that the site of yesterday's three-alarm fire at Pier 97 is safe, they will begin investigating what could have started the blaze which sent a noxious cloud of black smoke over Manhattan. The fire started in one of the Department of Sanitation's trailers: The NY Times reports that the 3:27 p.m. fire at "was fed by the winds and quickly spread to two other trailers and the wood pilings supporting the pier, which sanitation officials call Pier 97 and which juts into the river at the western end of West 57th Street... At one point, the flames threatened to leap across to a separate pier owned by Consolidated Edison that is about 50 yards north of Pier 97 and is crisscrossed with dozens of elevated metal fuel lines." Yikes!

The fire not only consumed the trailers but also "cars and trash-filled containers," according to the Post (DOS employees park their cars at the pier; there are also snowplows and trucks). Over 130 firefighters responded to the fire; the FDNY's divers also fought the fire from underneath the pier.

The Department of Sanitation said, "All the men lost their uniforms, boots, personal items that were in their lockers.... Their lunchroom was gone, the whole north field is gone." One employee told the Times that "his locker in the trailer had held jackets, shorts, shirts, T-shirts, winter coats and three pairs of boots," "I lost everything, and I just did my laundry... It’s like French toast in there right now." The trailers were used because the DOS has been building permanent space across the street.