fire jacobs
Photo by Alanna Campbell.

Six firefighters and a civilian were injured in a massive fire at 511 Amsterdam Avenue between 84th and 85th Street on Friday night, according to FDNY. The four-alarm fire drew 39 units and a total of 170 firefighters to the scene. The injuries were minor, according to an FDNY spokesman.

The blaze, whose cause is under investigation, was called in at 5:56 p.m. and was under control at 8:44 p.m.

The fire tore through the third, fourth and fifth floors and a shaft inside the building, which houses E’s Bar on the ground floor and is next door to Jacob’s Pickles restaurant. Jacob’s is closed now but will honor reservations at Maison Pickle, the restaurant that it recently opened on 84th and Broadway.

fire jacob2
Photo by Ed Hersh.

fire jacob3
Photo by Cody Pope.

Fire on Upper West Side. Never seen more fire trucks in my life.

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So dinner was cut short. #jacobspickles #nyc #fire

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NEWS | 29 comments | permalink
    1. Miriam says:

      Great photos. Congrats to all who captured this tragic event. Feeling awful for all those who live there.

    2. Elaine says:

      Does anyone know what we can do to help the people who lost their homes? Is there a place we can donate supplies? Or is there a gofundme page?

      • lynn says:

        Three fires just this week, counting the one where the FD threw all of a tenant’s belongings out a window. Where were all the tenants when these fires took place, are they able to reclaim their property, and where do they go when something like this happens? Are there emergency shelters (as opposed to homeless shelters)?

        • B.B. says:

          One presumes if the tenants were home they were evacuated or otherwise removed from building.

          As for removing “stuff” or whatever by FDNY and throwing it out of window, they will do what they deem necessary at the time for both their own safety and that of residents.

          Again after the death a few years ago of a FDNY member in a hoarder/cluttered apartment and other close calls, no one is going to take chances and or get sentimental about “stuff”. If it is in the way and or can feed the fire, out it is likely to go.

          This has been standard fire fighting practice for decades. Persons are free to pick through their “stuff” thrown outside before it is carted away.

          Callous and cruel it may seem, but you have no idea how fast a fire can be fueled by heaps of combustible “stuff” many people have in their apartments. Especially in often close quarters of typical NYC apartments where many try to cram five rooms of stuff into a 400SqFt studio apartment

      • Charlotte says:

        Hi, our friends were affected by the fire. They lived on the second floor. I launched a gofundme campaign for them..
        don’t know about others in the building!

      • Brett Mann says:

        An old school-mate’s mom lost her apt and all her possessions. My heart sank when I saw her on the news that night, sitting on an MTA bus that had been commandeered by the Red Cross for the building’s tenants who had to evacuate. A go-fund-me page was created for her as well:

    3. Amidon says:

      CALLED IN AT 5:56? Only shortly after 6:30 DID I HEAR ALL THE SIRENS.


      Red Cross volunteers and staff were on the scene for hours offering assistance.

      • lynn says:

        Thanks for the info Mary! I didn’t realize that the Red Cross was around for things like this. I thought they were only there for major disasters like hurricanes, floods, etc.

    5. Upper West Side Wally says:

      At 6:15 the 86th Street #1 Station had so much smoke that I felt I should pick up the pace getting out. The fire was one block down, one block over. What gives?

    6. UWS_lifer says:

      What’s with all the fires lately??!?

      People, put out your cigarettes and candles, etc. And clean out your ovens…crumbs and stuff in there can end up being kindling sometimes.

      Also, buy a fire extinguisher and keep it handy in the kitchen. I can’t stress this enough. They are inexpensive, and like a plunger, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

      I always bring fire extinguishers to people as house warming gifts instead of a plant or a bottle of wine and it is always well received and greatly appreciated.

      Do you have one in your apt?? Please go check…for yourself AND your neighbors sake.

      • Kathleen says:

        Love this comment. Buying one for my apartment first thing tomorrow as I don’t have one.

        Serious question: I live on an upper floor in a brownstone with one central staircase, and a patio balcony off our apartment. There is no fire escape. If there ever were a fire, the only exit is the door to the stairwell, or shelter on the balcony. I’m planning to buy a emergency fire ladder to keep for the balcony, but is that something people own? Is it legal or up to code for the building not to have fire escapes? The units in the front side of the building don’t have balconies. Am I paranoid, or is this weird?

        • W.80th says:

          Kathleen – I thought the same thing about my brownstone on 80th. One central staircase, no fire escapes. I think the logic behind having no fire escapes on buildings that are below a certain height is that there are two forms of egress – one way down, and one way up. In the event of a fire, could you go to the roof and get over to another (hopefully safe) building that way?
          I’m on the parlor level so I only have a short jump into the garden below in the event that the front entrance is blocked.

        • Nicole says:

          I am in the same boat. I am on the 5th floor of a walk up with no fire escape and no smoke detectors in the communal stairwell. Are smoke alarms in common areas mandatory and if so, how do I get one?

        • Sarah says:

          There should be a fire inspection report posted in a public area of your building listing means of emergency egress. For many of that type of building, the “second egress” is over to the next roof. Which has always seemed a little dubious to me.

          • Cat says:

            My 2nd means of egress IS the roof with absolutely no way to get down from the building or on to a neighboring roof which is an entire floor higher. When I lived on the UES there were always fire escapes outside of each floor. What is a person supposed to do if they can’t get out and need to go to the roof?

          • B.B. says:

            Why? That is old school NYC, long part of tenement life.

            Long as the adjoining buildings are of the same or close in height it is very easy to simply cross roofs.

            In the old days if you didn’t feel like walking down five or six flights of stairs to go “next door”, you went up to the roof and crossed over… Of course the criminal element long has taken advantage of crossing roofs.

            As for emergencies, if the fire has not spread yet to the roof and is below you, then you go up and across to the next building, then go down to the street. Today of course you wait for FDNY to give instructions.

            You have to remember NYC has some of the oldest housing stock in the country. In particular you still have people living in tenement buildings that went up early in the last century (if not before). These structures pre-date modern firefighting equipment including ladders that can reach several stories.

            There are gaps between buildings that aren’t visible from street since the fa├žade often covers. But a good healthy person can jump or otherwise make it across. That and or a plank/board will suffice. Again that is how they did things back then and how criminals still use roofs today to get between buildings.

            In modern fireproof buildings FDNY advises either shelter in place or head for the roof. For many the former is best as modern apartments are designed to contain fires and or at least slow their spread.


        • B.B. says:

          If the stairway is enclosed (has a door), it is meant to be kept shut at all times, thus no need for a fire escape.

          Cannot recall when the change was made but think it was sometime in the 1960’s, per NYC building code of a multifamily building has an enclosed staircase it does not need fire escapes.

          Sadly what often happens is during a fire or smoke condition people rush to stairwells not closing door behind them. This allows the stairwell to do what the doors were designed to prevent; act as a chimney carrying smoke and possibly fire up through the building.

    7. B.B. says:

      Another thing; you evacuate a building on fire and *DO NOT GO BACK IN* until or unless told safe by FDNY.

      To wit:

      “about a neighbor frantically trying to find his pet, “He was like looking for his cat and trying to pour water on his armoire that was completely up in flames.” E’s Bar bartender Brady Byrnes said, “He was just like, ‘My cat, my cat!’ and he ran back towards the apartment but the door was locked. ‘My doors locked, my doors locked.’.. I kicked the door to try to get it open but it was red hot, we couldn’t get it open.”

    8. Karen says:

      I love UWS_lifer’s comment about giving fire extinguishers as housewarming gifts! (I also wish West Side Rag had a “like” button for comments).

      I would recommend that coop boards consider purchasing a fire extinguisher for every unit and tell residents to place it in their kitchen. That way, everyone has one. And have the super go round and show everyone how to use it when he delivers it to them.

      • B.B. says:

        Fire extinguishers are all very well, and certainly have a place in every home. However as with any other tool they are only as good as the person using them, and or can lead to a false sense of security.

        Showing someone once or even twice how to use a FE, then leaving it for months or years later likely isn’t going to do much good. During the panic of discovering a fire many are likely to have forgotten how the use the thing, and or worse if they can remember where it was put.

        A fire doubles in strength every sixty seconds. Often precious time is loss when people try to deal with a fire on their own instead of calling fire department/sounding an alarm.

        Just as in the above where that resident was trying to put out his armoire that was up in flames, it is often best to get out of the apartment and leave the fire fighting to pros.

        Finally there is the often case of just because you see flames one place, that does not mean that is where the fire is located.

        Your drapes may go up in flames and you reach for a FE thinking that was that. When actually the fire started in walls/electrical outlet and is still smoldering and or burning.

        Best thing for NYC apartments to have are working smoke/fire detectors. They are required by law and building owners do put them in; but residents disable (for their own various reasons), and or take the batteries out to use for something else.

    9. Claire says:

      Does anyone know if the cat was rescued?

    10. Dina says:

      Great idea to give a fire extinguisher as a housewarming present. May also give it in addition to a wedding present or Anniversary gift. Thanks for this idea that could be a life-saving one.

    11. west side walking says:

      Perhaps Community Board 7 should have a fire prevention demonstration at an upcoming meeting.

    12. Victoria says:

      My mother and little brother lived on the 5th floor and feeling so grateful that they are okay. But sadly they lost everything. We’ve started a gofundme for them. Every little bit helps as we help them rebuild.

    13. Victoria says:

      My Mom and brother lived on the 5th floor of we are so grateful they are okay. But sadly they lost everything. We’ve helped set up a gofundme to try and help them recover.

    14. Gina says:

      Fires unfortunately cause lives in some instances
      what most people don’t know that thousands become
      Homeless every year. Most landlords do not
      refurbish those apartment right away. Many of those apartments are prewar and you have people who
      have been living there most of their lives, it’s not like
      a Co-op or Condo when with insurance they start
      building almost immediately. The Red Cross can only
      do so much they may place you for a day or two in a Motel that could be located near the Airport, this is
      one of the reasons so many land in shelters and on
      the streets, being burned out of your apartment can
      Be more devestating then most people can imagine
      family and friends can give you a place to stay for a while but then you’re on your own, try finding an
      affordable apartment like the one you had?
      Most landlords have good insurance they redo
      the apartments and charge a new tenant two and
      three times higher then the displaced tenant
      you might says the law protects those displaced
      tenant? not always the case. So when you
      see people homeless who did not know how to
      navigate the system, ask yourself, that poor
      soul could have lost his home do to a fire.