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Firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire this morning at 725 11th Avenue — a residential building next door to The Daily Show where 200 lithium ion batteries were found at the site of the blaze. One resident was injured and one cat remains missing from the building.
Smoke was seen billowing from the West Side building between W51st and W52nd Street as locals sounded the alarm. Video of the blaze appears to show the fire originating in the pedicab storage area below the building’s apartments, next to the Mr Oz Coffee Shop. The NEP Studios, site of popular comedic news program The Daily Show — appeared to be unaffected. W42ST reached out to Comedy Central for confirmation and will update if we hear back.
“My apartment was destroyed by fire,” W42ST reader Gail Ingram told us this evening. “We’ve managed to find one of my cats — but my cat Mensch and my neighbor’s cat are still missing.” Ingram and friends were being allowed to conduct a search accompanied by the building super and FDNY to try to locate the cats. [UPDATE Sunday: Ingram’s cat was located after their search.]
Madison Coller, who also lost her apartment in the fire, told us: “Unfortunately one of my cats was nowhere to be seen in the building. Her name is Stassie and she’s super skittish.” If you see Stassie, please DM Madison on Facebook.
FDNY said in a statement this afternoon that the fire happened in the five-story building at 11:10am this morning. The firefighters were on site at 11:14 and called a second alarm at 11:33am. They declared the fire under control at 1:34pm and said that one person had minor injuries.
FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Coyne also confirmed the presence of 200 lithium ion batteries in the first floor of the burned-out building, which was used as a pedicab dispatch. Chief Coyne stated that the FDNY was in the process of investigating whether the pedicabs used lithium ion batteries.
“There were numerous lithium ion batteries in the occupancy,” said Deputy Fire Chief Coyne to CBS News. “After the control of the fire, we brought in our hazmat units, and they worked to remove the lithium ion batteries.” In April, FDNY warned about the increasing number of fires in New York caused by the improper storage and charging of lithium-ion batteries.
Hell’s Kitchen has been the site of several significant fires over the last few years, including a blaze at the apartments overlooking Rancho Taqueria, an extensive blaze that destroyed popular 10th Avenue Mediterranean restaurant Taboon, an apartment fire that left an entire building displaced and two residents temporarily without their beloved pets, and a fatal, intentionally-set fire that killed a Hell’s Kitchen man in September 2020.
Despite the recent boom in high-rise developments, many of the neighborhood’s buildings are late-19th and early-20th century row houses — some of which have suffered significant structural damage due to a lack of landlord maintenance. A notable example is apartments at 410 and 412 W46th Street, two buildings in the Special Clinton Preservation Area that have suffered flooding, decay, and a 2015 fire — to which landlords responded by erecting a makeshift tarp on the roof.
This afternoon, NYPD and FDNY remained at the scene, but traffic was moving freely again on 11th Avenue. We will update this story as we get more information about the residents and businesses affected.