If you were anywhere near downtown Manhattan last night, you heard about or even smelled the four-alarm fire at 240 East Houston that started around 5:30 p.m. Streets were blocked for hours as firefighters put out the blaze and then contained the building post-fire. We stopped by last evening around 10 p.m. and found many residents waiting outside, along with fire and Red Cross officials, to see when they might be able to return to their building. (Despite conflicting reports in the press, this is indeed a residential building.)
There were also quite a few dogs who lived there, and one guy with a Boston terrier waiting outside informed us that he’d been at work and had no idea about the fire until he got home, but that firefighters brought his dog to safety. Aw. The Red Cross tells us that no tenants in the building were hurt, and all had temporary alternate places to stay last night. Eight firefighters reportedly suffered some minor injuries.
According to the Red Cross, the building vacate may be lifted some time today for some apartments, but the apartments on the fourth and fifth floors are “permanently” vacated (meaning they are most likely destroyed). 12 Avenue A, next to 240 East Houston, is also under a temporary vacate order. Any residents affected by the fire can call 1-877-REDCROSS for assistance.
As for the cause of the fire, residents said they believe it started on the roof, where construction workers had recently begun a renovation project. Gothamist points out that a complaint was filed weeks ago with the Department of Buildings regarding scaffolding being installed without permission.
Given that the blaze looked like this:
We’re quite relieved that all are safe.