The East Harlem gardening business where the massive blaze that knocked out Metro-North service this week originated, causing serious commuting problems, was hit with a number of violations yesterday. The fire began when an employee was refueling a hot generator.
According to Politico, Urban Garden Center was hit with four summonses: "'unlawful storage, handling and use' of liquefied petroleum gas, unlawful use of liquefied petroleum gas for heating the greenhouse, unlawful storage of gasoline in quantities so large they require a city permit, and unlawful storage of 'portable fueled equipment.'"
On Tuesday, the FDNY responded to a fire at Park Avenue and East 119th Street around 6:42 p.m. The fire grew to four-alarms, as it spread to numerous items stored at the Urban Garden Center: Firewood, fertilizers and more gasoline. A source told DNAinfo, "There was more combustible material there than at a outdoor Home Depot center, including propane."
The fire badly damaged the Metro-North tracks above, requiring the MTA to work around the clock to shore up columns, and delaying commuters with limited service on Wednesday and Thursday. While service has been restored, there are still residual speed restrictions at that part of the route.
The Urban Garden Center is a tenant of the La Marqueta, the market space under the tracks that's managed by the NYC Economic Development Corporation. Mayor de Blasio's office said, "Had the business followed the law, FDNY would have assessed the site and determined this storage of flammable materials should not be allowed," and the FDNY told NBC New York, "Safety remains our number one priority. For the most part, spaces under train tracks and viaducts are unoccupied by businesses or structures. NYCEDC, DOB, DOT, and FDNY are reviewing these areas citywide and working together to ensure the safety of these spaces."
The garden has not given a statement yet.