Track fire.

Fire on the Tracks in East Harlem

Last week, New York City suffered one of its most alarming and catastrophic-looking accidents in years. Generally speaking, if one were to hear that there was an accident involving a fire, under train tracks, precipitated by massive amounts of explosive material, they would fear the worst.

What a relief it turned out to be, when an East Harlem plant nursery (the Urban Garden Center, on E. 118th and Park Ave.) erupted into a four-alarm inferno, and authorities reported no injuries.

That’s not to say there were no negative consequences, however. This fire struck at approximately 6:45pm – right as New York City rush hour came to a close. Likewise, commuter traffic was absolutely crippled in the aftermath of the blaze. The tracks above the nursery belonged to the Metro-North train. Firsthand reports cited rivets from the tracks loosening or breaking in the fire, and steel girders actually bending in the heat. The Metro-North viaduct was severely damaged. Due to this, Metro-North trains were canceled, delayed, and slowed down drastically. Some active trains were even sent reversing back towards the station they’d left from, so as to avoid crossing the damaged trestle. Trains that did run were extremely overcrowded. Commuters, left with no other option, crammed themselves uncomfortably into any available trains. Some NYC workers reported commute times of over three hours.

Eyewitnesses reported all the telltale signs of fire, but remarked on their enormous magnitudes. Building-sized plumes of black smoke, towers of fire.



What Caused the Track Fire?

Evidently, the Urban Garden Center’s generator was being refilled, when an array of propane tanks spilled onto the hot generator, causing ignition, and then the massive fire. Other flammable materials, which the Urban Garden Center was storing, such as gas, firewood, fertilizer, and gardening chemicals, exacerbated the blaze. Construction material and a nearby trailer were burnt in the process.

This all provoked the question: why were propane tanks being stored underneath an elevated section of train track? Many found themselves asking themselves this.

The answer: they shouldn’t have been. The nursery in question hadn’t filed for the appropriate permits – the ones that would have allowed them to store those flammable materials, at those dangerous quantities, in that location.

Now that the FDNY has long since put out the fire, and quelled the literal heat of the fire, some figurative heat stands to come for the Urban Garden Center. These permit infractions will likely bring on a spate of fines and future inspections for the nursery.

The steel supports of the trestle must be repaired and reinforced.



NYC Fire Quick Tips

The FDNY stresses a three-pronged approach to keeping yourself safe from fires and fire-related injuries. These three prongs are:

  • Preparation: Do your part to keep the city fire-free. Be mindful of cigarettes and candles and other everyday materials which produce or utilize fire. Never leave a gas stovetop on if you leave your apartment, and remember to fully extinguish cigarettes before tossing them into potentially flammable locations.
  • Detection: Everyone hates when smoke detectors go off and it’s just a false alarm. However, in the event of a real emergency, smoke detectors will save your life. Keep them maintained, with fresh batteries, at all times.
  • Escape: Go over an escape route with your family. Having a firm idea in your head of where to go and what to do in the event of a fire could make the difference between life or death in an emergency situation.


Kaplan Lawyers PC

At the root of most accidents lays one common denominator: oversight. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we know that some accidents cannot be avoided. Freak occurrences, human error, chance interactions; these are all part of life. However, if neglect or malfeasance on the part of an individual or corporation has led to an otherwise avoidable accident, then action must be taken. In situations where individual laziness or ignorance of protocol has led to an innocent person sustaining an injury, we believe strongly that the innocent party in question deserves compensation. If a business, or those acting on behalf of a business, cut corners in an attempt to save money or time, and safety hazards are produced in the process, we believe that anyone injured in these environments is entitled to just action.

We can help you fight for your rights. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we’ll stand alongside you throughout the entirety of your judicial process. We will earn you the compensation you deserve. Compensation that will help allay the costs of expensive medical bills, provide for you and your family as you recuperate from injury, and keep you financially sound if you miss time from work. For more information, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started.