Huge Fire Breaks Out in Village Building Cited for Illegal Electrical Work

DNA Info - July 06, 2017

by Tatyana Bellamy-Walker, Janon Fisher and Ben Fractenberg

GREENWICH VILLAGE — A massive fire broke out in the sub-basement of a Bleecker Street building Wednesday morning where owners had been hit with repeated violations for illegal electrical work, officials said.

Bleecker Street was shut down for several blocks when a fire broke out affecting approximately 33 units in a 10-story building at 160 Bleecker St.

At least 140 firefighters responded to the call, the FDNY said. There were no injuries reported.

“We had a heavy smoke condition throughout the building and high CO levels throughout the building," said FDNY Manhattan Borough Commander Roger Sakowich, who added that "construction material that they were using for the renovation of the basement” caught fire in the basement and helped cause the smoke conditions.

The Department of Buildings slapped the building owner for repeated violations of doing electrical work without a permit, as well as elevator issues and operating a hotel office on the first floor without a Certificate of Occupancy, according to records online.

DOB officials said the building's owner still owes about $8,000 to the city for electrical violations — including doing work without a permit and having an electrical service end line box that was in poor condition.

DOB inspectors are currently investigating a complaint filed on Wednesday citing that construction operations are endangering workers at the fire.

DOB officials referred questions about the owner of the property to the city's Department of Finance. The Department of Finance referred questions about the owner of the property back to the DOB.

According to Department of Finance records online, the building is registered to 156 Bleecker Owner LLC.

According to StreetEasy, the building is managed by Babad Management, which referred calls to a property manager, Sheldon Becker. Becker says that the building is owned by the Atrium Corporation.

No hazardous materials were found at the scene, the FDNY said.

A building tenant, Gabriel Chygtry, 35, said he saw two ladder trucks stop at the building about 5 p.m. on Tuesday. He said he saw firefighters go into the basement. Chygtry said they left about a half an hour later, but he was unaware why they had stopped by.

Fire officials confirmed they responded to the building on July 4 at 6 p.m. after an automatic alarm was triggered, but did not find any fire or other problem at the time.

An investigation into the cause is ongoing.