A five-alarm fire consumed a building housing a Citibank at 111th street and Broadway starting very early on Saturday morning. Seven people were injured, an FDNY spokesman told us around 11:40 a.m.. Four civilians suffered smoke inhalation, and three firefighters suffered minor injuries. The fire department The fire began before 5:30 a.m. — when Kate Groob was awakened by windows breaking — and it had not been fully contained as of 11:40 a.m.
“We’re now at a fifth alarm and it’s still not under control,” the FDNY spokesman said. The fire spread through the basement, first and second floors, he said. FDNY was first called at 5:20 a.m.
“It’s just a stubborn fire. It’s a tight building. The fire travels vertically and horizontally. The roof is steel, it traps the heat and smoke.” Five alarms means there are 45 units and 198 firefighters at the scene. The cause is still unclear.
Update: Around noon, firefighters broke open the sidewalk next to the bank with jackhammers and appeared to be pumping foam into the basement and first floor, according to Kate. Eventually, it apparently became a six-alarm fire. See photo of foam below.
Below, check out the escalating alerts sent to one of our readers, who is connected to law enforcement:
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 5+ Alarm Fire| 482.10625| 2861 Broadway| U/D: (Box #1339) All personnel removed from bldg, defensive ops, poss ext to exposure #4| NYC249| 09:35
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 5+ Alarm Fire| 482.10625| 2861 Broadway| U/D: Cmd req 5th alarm, heavy fire throughout a 2-stry 100×100 Citibank, 2 T/L in op, DWH| NYC249| 09:27
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 4 Alarm Fire| 2861 Broadway| U/D: 2 tower ladders in operation and special call for high expansion foam unit, DWH| NYC055| 08:37
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 4 Alarm Fire| 2861 Broadway| U/D: Box 1339 fire changed to dwh for fire found concealed in 1st flr crawl space, floor sagging| NYC055| 08:14
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 4 Alarm Fire| 2861 Broadway| Box 1339 4 alm for fire in the basement and 1st floor of a 2 story 100×100 Citibank, Now pwh| NYC055| 08:06
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 3 Alarm Fire| 2861 Broadway| Box 1339 3 alm for fire in the basement and 1st floor of a 2 story 100×100 Citibank| NYC055| 06:25
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 2 Alarm Fire| 2861 Broadway| U/D: Box 1339 fire now in the basement w/extension to the 1st floor of a bank via ducts, 2lso, dwh| NYC055| 06:13
NYC| Manhattan, NY| 2 Alarm Fire| 2861 Broadway| Box 1339 2 alm for heavy smoke in the basement and 1st floor of a 2 story 100×100 comml| NYC055| 05:57
Photo by Katie Barry later Saturday morning.
Photo by JP Collins.
Our initial report that there were did not appear to be injuries was incorrect.
Was this building up to code?
According to the DOB website, a permit was issued for “REMOVAL OF EXISTING FIRE ALARM SYSTEM” on 6/27/13, though this was not signed off. Permit was issued on 1/16/13 and signed off for “MODIFICATION TO EXISTING SPRINKLER SYSTEM”, and judging by some information on the documents, some of the sprinkler heads were removed, though there were still several remaining or relocated. It appears the fire system was at the very least up to DOB code since the DOB approved their filings in 2013.
The building was emitting smoke around 7pm and Broadway is closed in both directions.
This was an old building that had been redone several times over the years. It apparently has large timber frames within it and voids that are making to a stubborn fire. That is why they pulled all of their men out of the building at apox: 9:30 am yesterday. As per FDNY comments on NY1 last night the floors have sagged and there are holes in the roof from the fire. Its more than likely that they will have to pull it down and apart to get at the seat of the fire. The building next door with the deli and the Heights bar said in the same interview that he had at least 5 1/2 feet of water in his buildings basement. When DOB and FDNY pulls down the Citibank taxpayer, it may effect the stability of his taxpayer building. Its just a wait and see for now. With Bank Street closing its book store and several other stores for rent already on one of the last taxpayers only on a whole block of B’way frontage I would not be at all surprised to see all of them bought out and a new apt building built in there place.
Disappointing that no one from Citibank has mobilized a response team to reach out to customers with valuables in the vault. Obviously there is little known and much to learn but sad that the branch manager or Citibank management cannot manage to get out a list of box holders and start dialing/emailing to at the very least notify us that “your bank burned down” and that they are aware we have concerns.