FDNY Battling 2-Alarm Fire in Chinatown

7 Online - January 24, 2020

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Firefighters remain on the scene of a massive fire that ripped through a historic building in Chinatown just before the Lunar New Year. The FDNY says nine people were hurt, including eight firefighters.

Video showed flames pouring out of the fourth floor windows of the building after someone noticed the fire around 8:45 p.m. Thursday at Mulberry and Bayard Streets.

"At the height of fire we had 200 fire and EMS personnel on scene," said FDNY Chief of Fire Operations Thomas Richardson. "The fire originally started on the fourth floor of the building. It spread to the fifth floor and then into the roof area."

Crews say there was a 59-year-old man trapped on the top floor. They had to use ladder trucks to pull that man from the building.

He was one of nine people injured, suffering smoke inhalation. He was taken to the Cornell Burn Unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

The other eight were firefighters. All the injuries, including those to the civilian, are said to be non-life-threatening.

At one point fire crews were fighting the flames inside the building, but backed out.

They were looking to see if the building was stable enough for them to go back inside with hoses.

The FDNY says the roof of the building caved in.

The building, which is owned by the city, houses a senior center, a job training center, dance studio, and space for archives for MOCA, the Museum of Chinese in America. It's described as a "cornerstone to Chinatown."

"It is in the heart of Chinatown here on Bayard and Mulberry," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. "And I understand it was just recently renovated, maybe a year ago."

Friday morning, firefighters were still putting out pockets of fire in the building.

Five tower ladders were set up to handle the task. Crews had still not accessed the fifth floor due concerns over the structural integrity of the building.

Many people were anxious to know how much the fire damaged inside.

There is undoubtedly water damage, judging by the amount of water crews continued to pour on fire early Friday morning.

As if adding insult to injury, this fire happened right before celebrations of the Lunar New Year.