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New Yorkers: Know Your Fire Escape Routes

I was listening to the Brian Lehrer Show this morning and he and his guests were discussing the massive warehouse fire over in Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday. Historical preservation groups had been pressing for the abandoned buildings to be declared landmarks. The owner of the property is a developer who wanted to tear the buildings down and put up 5 high-rise residential buildings.

And so the buildings burned down, rather obviously with the help of accelerants since the buildings practically exploded in flames and were engulfed by the fire in a suspiciously brief period of time.

Okay, well, I guess that's for the Fire Marshals to sort out. In the meantime, however, one of Brian's callers this morning identified himself as a New York City fireman based in Brooklyn. His comments were disturbing. Basically he was saying that in the opinion of the "firefighters on the ground", more and more buildings in Brooklyn were burning under suspicious circumstances. He may have called it "an epidemic", though I don't recall if he used those exact words. In any case, that seemed to be the gist of what he was saying.

And then other people from other boroughs called in to say they'd been seeing the same thing: buildings that were somehow for some reason "going away", thus clearing the way for redevelopment by property owners.

Well, if it's true, it certainly wouldn't be the first time this city (and no doubt other cities) have seen a wave of redevelopment by way of the match. The problem, of course, is that people are often living in those buildings, and their tenancy may even be the hitch in the building owner's redevelopment plans.

Expect an investigative report on this subject in one or more of the city's dailies or weeklies within the next few days or weeks. I hope they find there is no basis for people's suspicions. I fear they will find that there is.


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