Updates on the 319-321 Grand Street Fire

Posted on: December 5th, 2011 at 6:42 am by

There are some updates to divulge today regarding the fire at 319-321 Grand Street.  But first to bring everyone up to speed…

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Early Saturday morning (roughly 3 am) here on the Lower East Side, a two-alarm fire engulfed the iconic corner property, which currently houses Jodamo and Modern Decor on the ground floor.  The blaze was extinguished in roughly an hour or so, with three ladder trucks responding on scene. But the true extent of the damage wasn’t clearly palpable until daybreak when the burned-out corpse was clearly visible against the cloudless sky; not to mention the debris (glass shards, incinerated wood) littering the sidewalk until late afternoon.

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We are told that building residents are all okay, and were briefly permitted into their homes under the supervision of the FDNY. And while there remains concern about the fate of 319-321 Grand, word on the street is that insurance companies assessed the damage, and that the building doesn’t need to come down.  Meanwhile, Jodamo appears closed for the duration.

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Furthermore, sources tell us that the building ignited itself due to a lethal combination of hot heating pipes, very dry wood, and bird nest in the facade. Though this has not been confirmed by the FDNY. And then there’s this fascinating tidbit from a Boogie reader:

The reason why fires on LES are usually much worse than when in newer buildings is because of the tin pressed ceilings. Leftover gas can sit in between the tin and ceiling planks for up to 100yrs. The fire burns thru the tin and the gas ignites a fire ball. A fire ball in ridleys is how all the windows blew out but the fdny didn’t say what ignited the fire.

319-321 Grand Street is a five-story cast iron structure built in 1886, and housed the Ridley & Sons Department Store, considered the largest retail store in the country at the time.  The property, which has been for sale in recent years, was in line for landmark consideration, leaving some in the neighborhood second-guessing the true cause of the fire.

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