On August 18, 2007 at approximately 3:40pm, a seven-alarm fire broke out on the 17th floor of the building, caused by workers smoking, carelessly and in violation of the building’s safety rules. By this time, the skyscraper, once 41 stories, had been reduced to 26, with crews removing a floor a week. At the time of the fire, crews were removing asbestos. The fire spread in both directions, affecting a total of 10 floors. The floors were filled with a maze of protective polyethylene sheets which were designed to prevent the spread of asbestos, but which also trapped smoke making fighting the fire extremely difficult. Firefighting was additionally hampered as the building did not have a functioning standpipe, forcing firefighters to raise hoses up from the street to combat the flames. The building had not been inspected since March, when it should have been inspected every 15 days. The fire burned into the night before being extinguished. 45 Engine Companies, 30 Ladder Companies, 3 Rescue Companies, 19 Battalion Chief Units, 4 Division Chief’s Units, and numerous other special and support units responded from the New York City Fire Department to combat the fire. The fire killed two FDNY firefighters, Joseph Graffagnino, 33, of Brooklyn, and Robert Beddia, 53, of Staten Island, who succumbed on the 14th floor to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, and injured 115 firefighters, 46 seriously enough to require medical leave. Plans to deconstruct the building continued as quickly as possible. In 2008, the Manhattan District Attorney indicted three construction supervisors and the demolition subcontractor, the John Galt Corporation.
- Firefighter’s Widow Wins $10 Million Settlement (theepochtimes.com)