Part of Fire-Ravaged First Ave. Building Must be Razed: DOB

The Patch - October 06, 2018

by Caroline Spivack, Patch Staff

The East Village building does not need to be demolished, but a backyard extension on the ground floor's restaurant must be razed.

EAST VILLAGE, NY -- The First Avenue building that was ravaged by a six-alarm blaze Wednesday and took firefighters more than ten hours to extinguish will not need to be demolished -- but a back yard extension of the Japanese restaurant in the building's ground floor must be razed due to severe fire damage, according to the city's Department of Buildings.

Concerns about the property's structural stability stymied the FDNY's efforts to put out the flames, forcing firefighters to retreat from the 188 First Avenue building and allow the fire to partially burn its self out as they bombarded the blaze with water.

Department of Buildings engineers "have determined that the structural stability of [the building] was unaffected by the fire," according to department spokesman Andrew Rudansky. The structure won't face the wrecking ball, but remains under a buildings department vacate order.

(For updates on recovery efforts from this fire and other East Village news, subscribe to Patch to receive daily newsletters and breaking news alerts.)

Tenants of the eight apartments have been allowed back inside to retrieve personal belongings.

Upscale sushi restaurant Uogashi occupied the structure's ground floor and an extension on the lot's backyard that suffered severe damage and will need to be torn down. Two partial vacate orders were issued for the buildings on either side of the lot, 186 and 190 First Avenue, but neither of the orders prevent the buildings from being occupied, according to Rudansky.

FDNY officials say the fire began in the restaurant, but as of Friday afternoon have not determined the exact cause for the fire, which caused extensive damage to all five floors of the structure.

Two days after the blaze, the air near the building hung heavy with the smokey smell of burnt wood but neighboring businesses already returned to life as usual.

One co-owner of a nearby bodega, who watched the scene unfold from the roof of a building, couldn't believe that the burnt-out building didn't need to be knocked down when it was "shooting flames like it was going out of style."

"It was really crazy to watch," said Hector Guzman, 36. "I thought for sure that building was going down. At least that's a little good news for the owner."

The building's owner did not immediately return requests for comment.