FDNY Deems Fire At Historic Bowne Warehouse Suspicious

FDNY Deems Fire At Historic Bowne Warehouse Suspicious

RED HOOK – The FDNY has described the two-alarm fire that tore through the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse last month “incendiary.”

S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse, 595-611 Smith Street (Photo taken June 15, 2018, the morning after the fire, by Nathan Haselby)

The June 14 fire at the warehouse located at 595-611 Smith Street and owned by the Chetrit Group is “considered suspicious,” a FDNY representative told Crain’s New York last Friday. A fire department rep would not provide any further information when BKLYNER called late Monday afternoon, saying only that the investigation is ongoing.

The fire broke out in the historic building days after community advocates met with Council Member Carlos Menchaca to discuss advancing efforts to landmark the site after locals discovered unauthorized work being done on the building’s roof in May.

Following the blaze, Council Member Menchaca released a statement calling the fire “highly suspicious,” and asked that the FDNY make public its findings on the cause of the Bowne Storehouse fire. Menchaca also called on the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to conduct a “thorough review of permits and violations at the site and to hold the owner accountable for a long series of irresponsible activities there,” adding that the Chetrit Group has “willfully neglected” the property over the years.

Six days after the fire, the DOB “placed a stop-work order on the property after finding that illegal demolition had been done,” according to Crain’s.

Built in 1886, the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse is one of 33 key historic structures in the Gowanus/Red Hook area that the Gowanus Landmarking Coalition has requested the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission consider for landmark designation prior to the rezoning of Gowanus. The Coalition launched a petition last week boosting its efforts to save the Bowne building from demolition.