If you were anywhere near or around the North Williamsburg waterfront this weekend–I’m not to say post-brunch time because I feel gross about that, but sometime in the early afternoon–you probably noticed what looked like massive clouds speedily moving across the sky. Your less hungover friend probably looked at you and said that those “clouds” were not clouds at all, but were enormous plumes of smoke.
And in case you haven’t looked at the internet since Friday in favor of enforced weekend-long meditation or are just now climbing out of your 48-hour drunken stupor, maybe you didn’t realize those smoke plumes were coming from a huge fire at a warehouse on the Williamsburg waterfront.
According to the Times, a fire broke out at storage warehouse, CitiStorage located at 5 North 11th Street, just after 6am on Saturday morning and was still blazing almost twelve hours later. Firefighters had a tough time subduing the flames due to nasty weather–there was persistent wind with gusts up to 36 miles per hour, while temperatures dipped into the low teens. Over 200 firefighters showed up at the scene throughout the day on Saturday, and Chief of the FDNY James Leonard told Times reporters that “the weather conditions almost could not have been worse for firefighters.”
The Fire Department even brought rarely-seen fireboats out onto the East River to spew water (17,000 gallons a minute, to be exact) from cannons on to the smoldering ruins. No injuries were reported, but countless documents with sensitive information–bank account numbers, social security numbers, and medical records– were strewn across the waterfront. Though it looks like most of the debris was confined to the waterfront. Thankfully, on the nearby busy strip of Bedford Avenue, much smaller pieces of ash and tiny inscrutable pieces of paper fell to the earth.
Given that the warehouse contained a huge stock of important records–from court documents to medical files and records from the Administration for Child Services–it doesn’t sound crazy to think the seven-alarm fire was no accident. The Times, of course, consulted a 28-year-old “blue-haired poet” sitting with a typewriter (yes, a freaking typewriter) at MatchaBar just a couple of blocks south of the charbroiled warehouse–this young woman shared her poem, which insinuated the blaze was set by greedy developers.
The Fire Department is currently investigating the real cause of the fire, but in the mean time the Fire Chief predicted what’s left of the warehouse and the papers inside will continue to smolder for days.