This morning, fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the massive fire that ripped through three Grand Street buildings Sunday night, killing an elderly man, injuring dozens and leaving more than 90 people homeless.
Their attention is focusing on two of the buildings (283 and 285 Grand), which are going to be demolished because they’re structurally unstable. The owner – Fair Only Real Estate Corp. – was cited for building code violations numerous times in the past several years. Today the Daily News is reporting that inspectors (on two separate occasions) found problems with fire retardant materials inside the walls of 283 Grand.
Last June, an inspector spotted holes in the walls of 283 Grand, a spokesman for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development said, and the city cited the owner, Fair Only Real Estate Corp. of Flushing, Queens, on June 23 for the “broken or defective fire retardant material” in the walls. A Fair Only rep contacted the agency on Aug. 5 and said the walls were repaired, but returning inspectors later found the “work that was done wasn’t up to the standard,” spokesman Eric Bederman said. It was unclear in the fire’s aftermath if Fair Only’s owner, Solomon Scheinfeld, finally fixed the problem – or if it had anything to do with the spread of the spectacular seven-alarm blaze.
The report also says the building was evacuated twice in recent years when smoke began pouring out of the basement, and Scheinfeld was cited for missing smoke detectors and lead paint. Scheinfeld has not returned phone calls. He has homes in Lawrence, Long Island and Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Councilmember Margaret Chin, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and State Senator Daniel Squadron are out with another statement on the fire. They have been working with “Asian Americans for Equality, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, University Settlement – Project Home, the Chinese-American Planning Council, and the Chinatown Partnership, to secure housing for those displaced and help affected small businesses recover from this tragedy.”
Temporary Housing was arranged by the Red Cross for the fire victims until at least tomorrow. It’s unclear where the displaced residents will go after that.