Red Hook

AP: 8 Hurt In Blaze That Could Be Seen From ‘All Over the City’

December 13, 2022 Editorial Staff
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Associated Press, with additional material by Brooklyn Eagle

Eight people suffered minor injuries Tuesday in a fire at a New York Police Department warehouse in Red Hook that houses DNA evidence from crime scenes as well as cars, e-bikes and motor scooters, police and fire officials said.

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An ion lithium battery may have sparked the fire, according to preliminary news reports. The site of the fire was an auto pound that is different from usual tow pounds, according to NYPD, because it stores vehicles that have been confiscated for reasons other than parking violations.

The fire at the Erie Basin Auto Pound, a low warehouse situated atop a long, curving breakwater on the Brooklyn waterfront, broke out at around 10:30 a.m., FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said.

The volume of fire quickly overwhelmed firefighters who had gone inside to battle the blaze and then had to retreat and fight it from the outside, Hudgens said. The effort included drones as well as boats spraying water into the warehouse from the harbor, he said.

The fire in Red Hook. Photo courtesy of FDNY

The fire, which sent a plume of smoke that could be seen for miles (kilometers), was still going Tuesday afternoon and might take days to bring under control, Hudgens said.

Hudgens said three firefighters, three emergency medical workers and two civilians suffered minor injuries.

Police Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey, who joined Hudgens at a briefing at the fire scene, said the facility is used to store DNA evidence from crime scenes as well as e-bikes, motorbikes and cars. “It’s mainly evidence but we store other things there as well,” he said.

The police have sometimes used the warehouse for public events in which they have crushed illegal motorcycles, scooters and ATVs seized from people operating them illegally.

Maddrey said that once the fire is under control, police property specialists will go inside and see what has been destroyed and what can be salvaged. “We don’t know the severity of the damage inside,” he said.

John Quadrozzi, Jr., owner of the Gowanus Bay Terminal (GBX~) nearby, told the Brooklyn Eagle that a lot of people checked in with him to see if his property was safe.

“Fortunately it’s was at the end of the block from GBX~ far enough out of danger, however a lot of smoke came our way,” he said. “I hope our friends at Erie Basin and the police impound lot are okay and will provide any help they need till they get thing squared away.

“During 9/11 when the impound lot became overwhelmed, we provided 100,000 feet of storage for them which worked out really well for NYPD to control with GBX~ being right across the street.”

Response to the fire was massive on social media. Opinions, photos, and condolences flowed from all over the city, according to Brooklyn Eagle monitors.

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