After Chinatown Fire, Tenants Pick Over the Ruins

Two weeks after a seven-alarm fire ripped through their Chinatown building and three others, the tenants of 289 Grand Street lined up in front of the ruins on Saturday afternoon to salvage whatever remained of their belongings.

The tenants came with empty shopping bags and low expectations as the city allowed small groups into the buildings at 20-minute intervals.

"I'm awful," dancer Stephen Vendola told the Voice while standing in line. But he was able to retrieve a few items — a coat, a quilt, and a passport — and he found that his paintings were intact.

Two buildings damaged in the fire will likely be demolished, but 289 Grand isn't one of them.

Vendola is staying with a friend in Jersey City. Many of the 200 people displaced by the fire (which injured more than 30 firefighters), are living in hotels and other temporary housing.


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