Five Alarm Fire Tears Through Chinatown Building That’s Home to Several Non-Profits

Photos from FDNY.

Photos from FDNY.

A five alarm fire broke out in a city-owned building at 70 Mulberry St. last night, injuring nine people and impacting several non-profit organizations housed in the property across from Columbus Park in the heart of Chinatown.

A 59-year-old civilian was rescued from the fifth floor and taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center for smoke inhalation.  Eight firefighters also suffered minor smoke inhalation. The building includes offices for the Chinatown Manpower Project (CMP), historic archives owned by the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), offices of the United East Athletics Association (UEAA),  as well as Chen Dance Center and a senior center run by Chinese American Planning Council (CPC).

The fire erupted at about 8:40 p.m. on the fourth floor and spread quickly on account of the historic building’s wooden interior and, as Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro explained,  “many things in it that are flammable.” The fire was so intense that firefighters were forced to withdraw from the building and battle the blaze from ladder trucks.  Nigro added, “(The flames) went out of the fourth floor windows, into the fifth floor windows, extended quite rapidly and quite rapidly through the roof of almost the entire structure. “So it’s very heavily damaged.” An eyewitness, Anthony Lei, told Channel 2, “I heard a big explosion. Once I turned around, I saw the flame coming out. I was a little bit shocked, as well as everyone else.”

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On Twitter last night, Mayor de Blasio said, “This building is home to many local non profits and a senior center that serves as a pillar to the Chinatown community. I know the neighborhood is in shock tonight. We’re going to help the community get through this.”

City Council Member Margaret Chin released a statement just after midnight last night. It read, in part:

70 Mulberry is the building where I went to school, P.S. 23, after my family immigrated to New York from Hong Kong in 1963.  It has been an anchor in the Chinatown community for generations, serving as home to community groups… (that) provide cultural and youth programming, workforce development, and critical senior services. We are now working closely with these nonprofits, City Hall, NYPD 5th Precinct, and FDNY to determine how and when these groups can access their spaces safely and soundly. We are also beginning a dialogue to identify alternative spaces they can use in the interim. We must make sure vital services are not lost, and that these groups’ needs are met. I am grateful to all the first responders from Ladder 20 FDNY and the 5th Precinct for your swift action and bravery. I look forward to working with you and the Chinatown community to restore what was lost.

The Museum of Chinese in America put up a statement via Twitter this morning that reads, “MOCA is deeply saddened and shocked by the devastating fire at Chinatown’s beloved 70 Mulberry. The MOCA team stayed on site until hoses stopped last night. Have reached out to emergency conservators. Thank you for outpouring of community support re: MOCA archives. Will update.”  

This morning, firefighters were still putting out hot spots. There is significant water damage inside the building.  The cause of the fire has not been determined. In a briefing at the scene a short time ago, Chief of Fire Operations Thomas Richardson said,  “Right now we are operating from the exterior with our tower ladder streams. We have a deep-seated fire in the roof area that is difficult to access. This will be an extended operation.”

UPDATE 11:14 a.m. The Chinese American Planning Council is out with the following statement:

CPC is deeply saddened by the devastating fire that started at 70 Mulberry Street last night, but we are grateful that it is under control and that FDNY continues to be at the scene managing the situation. 70 Mulberry Street houses CPC’s Chinatown Senior Center and other community based organizations and programs. There were no fatalities, but one serious injury and some minor injuries of the firefighters. We are sending everyone wishes for a speedy recovery. Thank you to the firefighters and first responders, to our elected partners, DFTA and our City officials, and to our community based organization partners and allies for your outpouring of support.  Restoring programming for our community members is an utmost priority for us. The Chinatown Senior Center was already closed today for Lunar New Year, but we are working with our other CPC sites and community partners to restore services as soon as possible and have been communicating with all of our community members. We are deeply grateful for everyone who has offered to support.

82-Year-Old Man Suffers Serious Burns in Fire at Baruch Senior Houses

An 82-year old man was badly burned in a fire at the Baruch senior apartments at 72 Columbia St. late last night.  The fire broke out in Juan Reyes’ sixth floor apartment shortly before midnight.

Camile Napoleon, a tenant association leader, told the Daily News, “His window faces the street and I knew immediately it was him… I saw paramedics take him out the building. He was moving but I didn’t see him say anything.”

The fire was put out at about 12:25 a.m. Firefighters have not yet determined how it started. Roberto Napoleon, tenant association president, told the News that Reyes recently dismissed his home attendant because he suspected her of stealing. “She was supposed to be replaced but it’s been at least a few weeks and no one has been sent. He has been getting around on his own,” said Napoleon.

Reyes’ family lives in Cuba. Camile Napoleon described him as a “tough cookie,” but a “real good guy” who participates in all of the community events at the NYCHA complex. She told Channel 2, “He had burns on his side, he looked like, really bad burns. We’re just praying that he’s gonna be okay.” Reyes was taken to New York Presbyterian/Cornell Hospital.

Fire on Norfolk Street Leaves Businesses, Residents Without Power

35 Occupants of 73 Monroe St. Displaced Following Fire

Fire Breaks Out Tonight at Clinton Street Restaurant Black Crescent

A Short-Lived Garbage Fire at Seward Park Extension


Firefighters made quick work of a garbage fire at the Seward Park Extension housing complex on Essex Street this morning.  They were on the scene quickly and extinguished the blaze in a matter of minutes.

Firefighters Respond to Dumpster Fire at Vladeck Houses

Fire at the Vladeck Houses. Photo from @cooperativelyyours.

Fire at the Vladeck Houses. Photo from @cooperativelyyours.

Firefighters worked this afternoon for more than an hour to put out a fire that had been set inside a dumpster at the Vladeck Houses.  The dumpster is located in a courtyard at the public housing complex, between Water and Madison streets. No one was injured, but the smoke could be seen throughout the neighborhood.

87-Year Old Woman Dies in Fire at Vladeck Houses

Photos: Fire at 40 Ludlow St. (Updated 2:52 p.m.)

40 Ludlow St.  Photo by The Lo-Down.

40 Ludlow St. Photo by The Lo-Down.

A fire broke out this morning in an air shaft at 40 Ludlow St., a tenement located on the block between Grand and Hester streets. There were no reports of injuries, but most apartments suffered some damage.

Fire Breaks Out Inside 71 Clinton St. Restaurant

Photo by Manon van den Berg.

Photo by Manon van den Berg.

There was some excitement on Clinton Street last night. Here was the scene after a fire was put out at DoDomPa, the restaurant at 71 Clinton Street. According to witnesses on the block, the fire happened in a wall adjacent to the bathroom.  Firefighters were on the scene quickly and extinguished the blaze.

Awning Catches Fire at 49 Clinton St.

49 Clinton St.

49 Clinton St.

A little excitement outside 49 Clinton St. this afternoon after an awning caught on fire.

Three Firefighters Suffer Minor Injuries in Blaze at 75 Mott Street

75 Mott Street. Photos: NYC Fire Wire.

According to a report on Channel 11, three firefighters suffered minor injuries during a fire at 75 Mott Street yesterday.  The fire started in a third floor apartment around 4:30 p.m.  and spread to the rest of the floor, but firefighters extinguished the flames quickly.

Investigators said there was a lot of debris in the apartment, piled five feet high. The firefighters tossed a lot of it out windows.  “We need(ed) to remove everything that (was) burning from the apartment, that (was) still smoldering — get it out in the event that the fire lights up again,” deputy fire chief John Esposito said.

Department of Buildings records show three violations at 75 Mott because the boilers had not been inspected.

The photo above is from NYC Fire Wire.


One Person Hospitalized Following Fire at 157 Rivington Street

157 Rivington Street. Photos via FDNY Incidents.

About 65 firefightewrs responded to a blaze at 157 Rivington, near Clinton Street, late last night.  The call came in at 1:16 a.m. according to a FDNY spokesperson.  The fire started in a second floor apartment. One resident was injured and transported in serious but stable condition to an area hospital. 

Fire at 318 Madison Street

318 Madison Street.

We’re on the scene at 318 Madison Street, where firefighters are putting out a fire inside an apartment building.  More to come…

 UPDATE 10:50 a.m. The fire was contained to one apartment in the Vladeck Houses. No one was injured and firefighters extinguished the flames quickly.  There was a huge response for a small fire; at least 40 firefighters were on the scene. More photos after the jump.

Report: Victim in Henry Street Murder May Have Owed Money

83 Henry Street, June 29.

There’s an update this morning on the murder of two women at 83 Henry Street nearly two weeks ago. Firefighters were called to the scene on the morning of June 29 only to discover that the women had been shot in the head. The fire had apparently been set to cover up the crime.  Today AM New York reports investigators believe one of the victims may have owed money; they are focusing on an underground credit system in Chinatown.

Neither 70-year old Xiao L. Li nor 36-year old Hua Chen lived at 83 Henry. The New York Post identified the apartment building as a “known prostitution location.”  According to AM New York, however, “Investigators now are downplaying reports that Chen was connected to prostitution, although she may have known someone who was.”

At the time of the killing, Police said, Chen had “money in her possession” that might have come from the credit system, which is known as the Hui.  It’s existed in Chinatown for decades.  Participants contribute to a pool of money and they are able to withdraw funds with interest.  Investigators are apparently looking into rumors that someone in the Hui feared that Chen might leave the country without repaying the money she had borrowed.

Chen had two young children.