Brighton Beach boardwalk fire sparked by dropped cigarette
A raging fire sparked by a dropped cigarette burned a part of the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach alongside an iconic neighborhood restaurant Sunday night, FDNY said.
The blaze started when someone under the boardwalk dropped a lit cigarette onto a mattress, FDNY said. The mattress was set aflame and the fire extended from there to the boardwalk and Tatiana Restaurant at 3152 Brighton 6th St.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire, which was under control by 10:50 p.m. One injured firefighter was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries, according to FDNY.
In 2003, a suspicious blaze erupted inside Tatiana, injuring 20 people and ravaging five floors of apartments above the restaurant. In 2007, another suspicious fire broke out at the Winter Garden Restaurant right next door.
No one was displaced from apartments above Tatiana Sunday night, FDNY said.
Tatiana is a neighborhood staple serving Russian cuisine.
“Like Nathan’s is to Coney Island, Tatiana is to Brighton Beach,” Pat Singer, founder of the Brighton Neighborhood Association, told the New York Times in 2004.
The area beneath the boardwalk is gated and locked to keep the public out. Still, some take shelter beneath the landmarked planks, said Yelena Makhnin, executive director at Brighton Beach BID. She added that the neighborhood has a regular homeless population that grows in warm weather.
“Each and every piece of info says [the fire was started] beneath the boardwalk by squatters,” Makhnin said. “No one should suffer because the city doesn’t have any way to deal with [squatters] … Putting some gate and chain to prevent people from entering under the boardwalk unfortunately doesn’t work.”
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