Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Williamsburg warehouse where a seven-alarm fire broke out on Saturday. The fire is not completely put out in the CitiStorage facility, and there are still dozens of firefighters on the scene. The mayor told them, "This is not easy stuff, and I really admire the fortitude."
De Blasio continued, "I hope you don’t meet many more of those seven alarms … I can imagine what kind of challenge it is when you’re in the middle of it. Thank God everyone came out safely. I want to thank you all for that. I know you watch each other’s back … Job well done everyone."
FDNY Commisioner Daniel Nigro said that while they are still investigating the cause of the blaze, "Let me say, there is nothing we’ve uncovered yet that indicates that this fire is an arson fire. There’s nothing, and the investigation is in the early stages and it’ll be ongoing for quite some time." He also emphasized that the frigid weather has made their efforts more difficult, "Unless you’re a polar bear this kind of weather is difficult. The thing I don’t miss from my days in uniform was being simultaneously cold and wet. So, it is a difficult time for firefighters."
CitiStorage, at 5 North 11th Street (a piece of land once estimated to be worth $100 million), is where many city agencies store their paper records. Fierce winds on Saturday blew documents miles away. But apparently not as many records went up in flames as initially feared. From the NY Times:
he latest inventory has found that records from two city agencies were stored at the CitiStorage warehouse in Williamsburg: 40,000 boxes from the Administration for Children’s Services, and 32,700 boxes from the health department, including 28,000 boxes of correctional health inmate records from 2009 and earlier. Both agencies are still assessing the damage to those records and the impact on their agencies, city officials said.
The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation stored 700,000 boxes of records there, of which 143,000 boxes were damaged. The agency believes that the impact on patients will be minimal because public hospitals switched to electronic records many years ago, officials said.
Initial fears that records from other agencies, including those for parks, housing, the environment and information technology, had been stored there and damaged turned out to be unfounded, a spokeswoman for City Hall said Wednesday.
While the city asked residents nearby to keep their windows closed, the air quality is reportedly back to normal.