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Arson

On August 30, 2011, I confessed to starting a fire as a young boy. I had been playing with a friend in a vacant lot across from my home. My friend encouraged and cajoled me to make those flames grow until the fire was beyond our control. We ran, lest we get implicated. I was terrified of the consequences of both the fire itself and, as we liked to say at the time, “getting killed” by my parents.
A firetruck appeared, and I watched the small blaze get extinguished from the porch of my home with my unsuspecting mother. It was my first and last involvement with setting fires and was a lesson learned, fortunately at no one’s expense, less a few minutes’ time of a handful of firefighters.
In my business, I manufacture and sell fire props to performers. Unlike my boyish recklessness, however, the professionals I have known, such as Chris Flambeaux, take fire seriously and understand the dangers and responsibilities. They are accountable and answer to fire marshals and theater regulations.

Yesterday evening, at 7:49PM, I was called by one of my staff. An enormous fire was in progress only a short distance from our office. It was not clear that the fire would pose any danger to the building where my business was located, so, I made my way back to my office’s neighborhood. A fire had been started at 41 Spring Street in NoLita. From the New York Times:

After arguing with the mother of his child, a man set a fire in the second-floor hallway of his Manhattan apartment building on Thursday night, igniting a rapidly spreading, five-alarm blaze that killed one person and injured at least nine, the authorities said.

It took nearly 200 firefighters two and a half hours to bring the fire under control, fire officials said; the building has a Pinkberry shop on the ground floor and apartments above.
“We had an extraordinary amount of fire,” said James Esposito, chief of operations for the Fire Department. It burned upward to the roof, destroying the interior staircases, so firefighters had to use fire escapes and ladders.

“It was an extremely intense operation,” Chief Esposito said. “The fire encompassed all the walls, all the floors,” he said. “We have a partial collapse inside the building right now. It’s essentially destroyed.”

The 45-year old suspect was arrested and is now in custody. Arson.

3 Responses to Arson

  1. Leslie Gold says:

    Living only a few blocks away I heard helicopters circling above for hours…but had no idea until newscasters reported the event. The building is quite familiar to me and I can’t help but think not only about how this out-of-control emotional event became such a huge tragedy, but also how much the surrounding businesses will be loosing for months, possibly years, to come as tourists unconsciously veer away from this now unsightly property and choose the more ‘visually appealing’ areas for their ‘hip’ NoLlita shopping and dining experiences.
    Because I walk through this area every day I just want to say how well your photos express the seriousness of the situation by the enormous amount of fire trucks and ambulances parked over a block away on Lafayette and Spring. Yikes!

  2. The local fire chief, who belongs to our local Eagan Rotary Club with me, invited me to photograph their planned burn of an old abandoned house recently. It provided an excellent training for a large group of local firefighters and made for GREAT photos for me!

  3. Brian Dubé says:

    Leslie – it was quite serious. You have a good point there – can’t believe it was so close to us.
    Leif – sounds great! I wasn’t there for the actual fire but I got what I could. Chaos.


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