20 August 2007

Two veteran firefighters (Joseph Graffagnino, 33, of Dyker Heights and Robert Beddia, 53, of Staten Island) were killed in a blaze at the abandoned Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty Street on Saturday.

Ladder 5/Engine Company 24 lost 11 men on 9/11 and now two more. “That house being hit again makes it all the more devastating,” said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta.

The building was in the process of being dismantled after it was damaged beyond repair on 9/11. There were still forensic teams on the roof searching for remains.

The New York Times reports that the fire started around the 17th floor, allowing the blaze to mushroom out of control as it consumed construction equipment and scaffolding, which fell to the street below.

FDNY is investigating whether standpipes failed to bring firefighters water during the fire. Officials suspect that a standpipe, which brings water to buildings, may have had a broken or cracked valve, according to WABC 7.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but a deconstruction crew was working at the site before the fire broke out and a police source told The Daily News that fire may have been caused by a construction worker's cigarette or a faulty electrical panel.

And the polyurethane sheath used to keep toxic dust from escaping onto the street during during the Deutsche Bank building's dismantling (the building was contaminated after the World Trade Center towers collapsed) actually "fed the flames" and were an obstacle to effectively fighting the fire.

I actually worked in the vault of this building in the late 90's. The vault was like 4 or 5 storeys below the ground; below the subway.

I remember talking to the other people who had worked there for years and they said in '93 when the Trade Center was bombed, they had no idea what was going on. They came up and outside and it was like the Twilight Zone.

I'd always thought of them and what happened to them on 9/11 being so far below ground and so far removed from what was happening above.

It was like you were sealed off from the rest of the world down there; like a Cold War fallout shelter from the 50's or something.

This is just fucked. Enough firefighters have died down there, now. It's fucking haunted. Horrible. Tragic.

Oddly enough, not too long ago I was remarking to a friend of mine about how workers had draped these lights zig-zagging down the building and at night it was beautiful. I didn't realise at the time it was the Deutsche building. That whole area, for some who worked down there a lot in the 90's, it's still completely unrecognizable; I can't ever get my bearrings. I never know where I'm standing in relation to what was there, etc. It's hard to make sense of it all without the towers.

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