The smell of smoke and the sounds of sirens and breaking glass came a little after 11 p.m. on Oct. 5. While some families slept inside, a fire broke out in a house in Park Slope. The flames would leave one firefighter injured and several homes damaged, according to the FDNY.
The fire ignited in a three-story wooden house on 389 11th St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The cause is not yet known. According to an FDNY spokesperson, the fire spread to two other homes, 387 and 391, through a cockloft—an opening between the roof and the ceiling—that the three houses shared.
Residents in the vicinity evacuated their homes and, on the street, found dozens of firefighters. Mike Tarantino, who lives in 385, recalls utter mayhem. “There was just chaos,” Tarantino says, “a lot of smoke, noise, and breaking glass.” The firefighers were able to put out the fire within an hour. No residents were hurt in the incident, and the injured firefighter was taken to Methodist Hospital and later released, the FDNY says. A department spokesperson declined to provide the name of the firefighter.
The fire is the second one that hit the neighborhood in three months. On July 2, a fire on 391 left residents worried. Catherine Erickson, who has lived in 393 for 50 years, says the fire on Oct. 5 was much worse. She says the fact that there have been two in such a short period of time is concerning, and that the residents of 389 “could be so disgusted they could move out.”
Jimmy Flemming, who lives on 11th Street, says the two fires have made him ponder what might happen to his house. “It always makes me wonder—Is my wiring up to standard? Is my plumbing up to standards?” he says.
Tarantino considers himself fortunate to not have been affected by either of the fires. This time around, he knew exactly what to do when he smelled the smoke. “We just got the kids out of bed as fast as we could,” Tarantino says. “We knew the drill from before.”
The Department of Buildings has placed a vacate order on 387 and 389. Fleming says the first thing he thought about when he heard about the fire was his neighbors. “What happened to them?,” he said. “Who was displaced, and where are they going?”
Tarantino knows the tenants of 387 well, but has not heard from them about where they are staying. Erickson says he knows the residents of 389, but also does not know where they will relocate to. In the meantime, restoration crews are cleaning up and salvaging whatever they can from the houses. On Tuesday, dozens of garbage bags full of broken pieces of wood and ash laid outside of the homes. The windows in the three houses are covered in wooden boards. A pile of dirt and wood sits on the sidewalk, with barriers and cones to alert passersby. On Tuesday, the Buddé French Cleaners company was at 389, packaging all the clothes and garments the company could restore. They met with the homeowner’s son-in-law, who declined to comment.
The residents on 11th Street hope this is the last fire they witness. “All wood frame houses,” Erickson said. “One goes up, we’re all in danger.”