Morning Madness 1/19/2000

It was an unusually busy day for fire fighters in the city January 19, 2000. In 24 hours there were 18 all-hands or greater alarm fires. At one point in the early morning Brooklyn had back to back second alarms, then an all-hands, all this while Queens had a second alarm.

A mean cold spell had hit the city with temperatures in the teens and single digits. Add some strong gusts and the wind chill factor brought the temperature to the minus 20-degree range. The Red Devil had to turn the up the thermostat.

77-75-725 - 0124 hours
The Devil began at 311 Troutman Street; a 4 story brick 25x60 multiple dwelling in the Ridgewood section. Fire was contained to the basement. Ridgewood straddles Brooklyn and Queens north of the Jackie Robinson Parkway (nee Interboro Parkway.) It took only 13 minutes to tame the beast but he'd already struck again.

77-75-648 - 0134 hours
As the crow flies, 642 Myrtle Avenue in the Tompkins Park North section is less than 1 mile distant from the last fire. It's a 3-story frame 25x50 multiple dwelling and fire was on the first and second floors. Again fire fighters quelled the Devil, this time taking 39 minutes. But as before . . .

99-22-5013 - 0138 hours
Jamaica Queens. 104-73 165 Street is a 2 story frame 20x40 private dwelling. It took 2 alarms and 51 minutes to control the fire and it had consumed the entire building.

77-22-740 - 0153 hours
Back to Ridgewood, a mere 3 short blocks down Knickerbocker Avenue from the fire on Troutman Street. 218 Suydam Street is a 3 story frame 25x60 multiple dwelling; fire was on the second floor. The Brooklyn C.O. received calls indicating that there were occupants on the top floor and that they were unable to get out. The chief requested a second alarm at 0204 hours and they proceeded to control the fire 29 minutes later.

Let's take a step back for a second and look at the big picture. In just under 30 minutes Brooklyn had 2 all-hands and a second alarm in relatively close proximity to each other. In order to provide adequate fire protection relocations needed to be made. Units from other parts of Brooklyn and Queens moved in on the area. And just when they started making some headway another blaze breaks out in Queens. Additional relocations are needed. Queens now needs to pull units from Manhattan and Bronx. We now return to "As the World Burns."

77-22-753 - 0228 hours
By now Ridgewood residents have become used to hearing sirens. 225 Wilson Avenue is about three eighths of a mile from the fire on Suydam Street. Fire was on the top floor of a 3-story frame 20x50 multiple dwelling in a row of attached frames. Fires in these types of structures are notorious for spreading to the exposures. Very quickly fire fighters operated 5 hand lines, 3 into the fire building and 1 into each exposure. At 0319 hours it was declared under control.

Did you ever see an old war movie in which a bunch of Generals stand around a flat map and push around ships and green army men? This is how it feels to make relocations. Let's take this unit and move it over here, them over there, you come here, etc. We now have Brooklyn units relocated into Queens. Manhattan units relocated into Queens and operating in Brooklyn. Bronx units are relocated into Queens. When the fire stops everybody grab a firehouse. But I digress.

77-75-3755 - 0321 hours
"Will these sirens ever stop?!" That's what they must have been thinking by now in Ridgewood. 1149 Greene Avenue is around the corner and 1 block down from box 753. The basement was going pretty good by the time fire fighters arrived at the 3 story brick 25x50 multiple dwelling. Despite delays caused by a frozen hydrant occupants were evacuated safely; some by aerial ladder; and the fire was under control at 0403 hours.

99-33-4965 - 0406 hours
Back to Queens in the Forest Hills section. 62-88 Wetherole Street is a 2-story frame 20x40 private dwelling. The top floor and attic were ablaze. Before long the fire had spread to exposures 2 and 2A. At 0536 hours; and after more relocations; they controlled the fire.

77-75-2678 - 0538 hours
At least it's not Ridgewood. Sunset Park was the locale for the last fire before tour change. 28 59 Street is a 2 story brick 75x125 commercial structure used by a bus company. It was a stubborn fire that took 1 hour to control.

Let's see this on a time line:

  • 0124: 77-75-725 transmitted
  • 0134: 77-75-648 transmitted
  • 0137: 77-75-725 under control
  • 0138: 99-22-5013 transmitted
  • 0153: 77-22-740 transmitted
  • 0228: 77-22-753 transmitted
  • 0229: 99-22-5013 under control
  • 0233: 77-22-740 under control
  • 0321: 77-75-3755 transmitted
  • 0403: 77-75-3755 under control
  • 0406: 99-33-4965 transmitted
  • 0417: 88-75-1433 transmitted
  • 0455: 88-75-1433 under control
  • 0536: 99-33-4965 under control
  • 0538: 77-75-2678 transmitted
  • 0638: 77-75-2678 under control

The remainder of the day was very active but not as dramatic.

77-75-2862 - 1100 hours - 1953 70 Street 4 story brick 100x60 multiple dwelling top floor fire

88-75-2821 - 1402 hours - 126 Gurley Avenue 2 story frame 20x40 second floor fire

77-75-985 - 1414 hours - 65 Gates Avenue 5 story brick 25x50 multiple dwelling second floor fire

99-75-4212 - 1427 hours - 62-48 Dry Harbor Road

77-75-321 - 1526 hours - 143 Rodney Street 4 story brick 20x60 multiple dwelling top floor fire

77-75-1673 - 1708 hours - 61 Thatford Avenue 6 story 75x50 multiple dwelling fifth floor fire

99-75-4553 - 1712 hours - large area of brush in the old Flushing Airport

77-75-1017 - 1717 hours - 712 Crown Street 6 story 150x100 multiple dwelling fifth floor fire

77-75-3870 - 2003 hours - 7120 Bay Parkway 2 story brick 20x50 commercial basement fire

88-75-2967 - 2158 hours - Sears Roebuck at the Staten Island Mall 2 story 400x975 fire in the escalator to the second floor.