Volume 73, Number 39 | January 28 - February 03, 2004

Villager photos by Bob Arihood

Four-alarm fire on Avenue B

A major fire on Avenue B between E. Third and Fourth Sts. filled the area with smoke and debris and left tenants from 16 apartments in two buildings homeless last Friday night. According to Firefighter Billy Green, a Fire Department spokesperson, the fire started at 6:28 p.m. at 42 Avenue B on the second floor in apartment 3B. Multiple phone calls had been made about a “fire in the rear [of the building]” and “smoke in the area,” Green said.

Firefighters were on the scene at 6:33 p.m. At 6:39 p.m., it became a three-alarm fire, meaning 33 engine and ladder trucks and 138 firefighters responded. The fire then moved into 40 Avenue B, the adjoining building. At 7:51 p.m., two injured firefighters were taken to Cornell Medical Center. At 8:01 p.m., the blaze was upgraded to four alarms, meaning 39 units and 168 firefighters were at the scene.

The fire was brought under control at 8:04 p.m. Three other firefighters were taken to Bellevue Hospital, one for a knee injury, another for a back injury and the third for a shoulder injury.

No residents or other civilians were reported hurt. John Penley, an East Village activist, said the tenants reportedly had recently been in court with the landlord and that there were rumors of an arson investigation and that fire marshals were at the scene on Monday.

However, a Fire Department spokesperson said Monday it was “too early” to say whether arson was involved, but that fire marshals investigate any fire deemed “suspicious.”

“I’ve seen a lot of fires down here, and that was the fastest-spreading one I’ve ever seen,” Penley said.

Dr. David Ores, from Clinton St., is acting as a liaison for the people who have been affected by the fire. He said he has put 50 flyers in local stores in order to raise money for the fire victims, and so far approximately $130 has been raised by about 18 donors.

One resident and victim of the fire has already contacted him and will be collecting half of the money donated so far, he said. Ores, who has been a local doctor for about eight years, said he considers what he is doing as a “nice gesture.”

“I know it won’t replace what they have lost but it is meant to make them feel better,” he said. Some people have contributed clothing and Ores is working with other local institutions to arrange a space to coordinate clothing donations, such as winter coats.


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