An untold amount of “biological evidence” linked to New York City crimes dating back decades was destroyed or damaged in a raging inferno that devoured an NYPD warehouse off the Brooklyn waterfront Tuesday, authorities say.
The fire, which broke out around 10:40 a.m. at the Erie Basin Auto Pound in Red Hook, a sprawling warehouse on Columbia Street, left a half-dozen first responders and two civilians hurt — and sent up towering black smoke plumes so thick some confused New Yorkers thought the blaze had started in Manhattan.
It escalated to three alarms within about 30 minutes, and roughly 150 fire department members were at the scene through early afternoon. Twenty people, a mix of NYPD staffers and contractors, were said to be inside the warehouse when the inferno started.
It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the blaze, and the investigation could take some time, though investigators said they know it started on a shelf that stored evidence. Firefighters were forced to withdraw from the interior early because of the intense flames and combustible material, as well as the threat of collapse. One section of the warehouse, which may have had hundreds of e-bikes in it, did fall, officials said.
A total of eight people — three firefighters, three EMS members and two civilians — were hurt in the fire, but all are expected to be OK, FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said.