Today’s news:

Fire engulfs City Island building

Bronx Times

City Island businesses inside a warehouse and office facility are picking up this week after a major two-alarm blaze tore through the building.

It could have been worse but for a lucky turn of events, fire officials said.

The fire, whose cause was still under investigation at press time, was spotted by firefighters from local Engine 70/Ladder 53 who were performing inspection work near the Fordham Street building on Thursday, March 14, said FDNY spokesman Jim Long.

The firefighters spotted smoke coming from the building about 1:30 p.m, said Long, with a second alarm being declared within 20 minutes.

The fire spread through part of the second floor of the building at 225 Fordham Street before firefighters were able to contain it.

All told, 15 units and 125 firefighters responded “from across the city,” to fight the fire, said Battalion Chief Keith Cartica.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries, said Cartica.

“There was no 911 call,” Cartica said at the scene. “One of our fire department units was actually doing a building inspection and came upon it. If we had to wait for John Q. Public to call us, this fire would have been more involved.”

Long said the fire spread rapidly because of combustible materials inside.

The fire was focused largely in an environmental lab, with a sign outside identifying it as QC Laboratories, officials said. Island Nautical Canvas, a sail maker occupies another side of the building, but was not damaged, said a person answering the phone there.

Ladder 53 has been repeatedly been named as or presumed to be one of 20 fire companies the mayor has called for cutting in preliminary budget negotiations over the past five years - as it might be again in this year’s budget talks to hammer out a final budget by June 30.

Fordham Street resident Roberto Soto said that over 4,000 taxpayers and residents on the island deserve to have a ladder company on their geographically isolated community.

“The reason why it is here is that it is needed,” said Soto. “Thank god we have Ladder 53 that can respond right away.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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