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Three-Alarm Fire Rips Through Hell’s Kitchen Building, Injures 11

New Photos of the fire:

Three-Alarm Fire Rips Through Hell’s Kitchen Building, Injures 11
August 12, 2010
By Nicole Bode

photo: dnainfo.com

Eleven people, including five firefighters, were hurt when a three-alarm fire ripped through a Hells Kitchen apartment building Wednesday night, the FDNY said.

The fire broke out on the top floor at 359 W. 45th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues shortly after 10 p.m., a spokesman for the fire department said. A cell tower on the roof hampered firefighting efforts, and crews brought the blaze under under control before midnight, the FDNY said.

The five-story building had to be evacuated and four people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The rest of those injured were treated at the scene, an FDNY spokesman said.

It was not immediately apparent what started the blaze. The building was declared structurally unstable as a result of the fire and tenants were forced to vacate the apartment, FDNY press said.

Basement store would be illegal

Store for Rent at 351 West 45th St

Store for Rent at 351 West 45th St

On its face, it’s absurd, but the basement space at 351 West 45th Street has been used as a commercial space several times. Many years ago, a cleaning store made an attempt. In the late 1990’s the junk shop “Ah-Ha” annoyed the entire block by piling its junk on the sidewalk. And a few years later the space was used as a meeting hall for Alcoholics Anonymous.

None of those uses were legal as the entire north side of our block is in a residential zone. They were allowed, however, due to being grandfathered. But now the space has been vacant for more than two years and grandfathering doesn’t apply. Any use of the space must be — in zoning lingo — conforming.

More over, there are other issues that would likely prevent its use as anything other than storage. The ceiling height is very low (around 6 feet) and it’s believed there are issues with ventilation and egress.

We’re being told that this attempt to rent the space has already been reported to the NYC Department of Buildings. While that might not have stopped it completely, we’re keeping a close eye on it.