‘Collyer’-style hoarding may have caused Friday’s Court Street fire

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Six people were injured — though two were heroically rescued — as a massive fire ripped through a Court Street building on Friday morning — a blaze that was fueled by years and years of hoarding, officials said.

An FDNY spokesman said the 7:40 am fire quickly spread through the three-story building at the corner of Garnet Street, home of Botanica de la Milagrosa, which sells Christian statues and other religious items.

Battling back heavy flames, Firefighter Nathanael Igbowu of Red Hook’s Ladder Company 131 saved a man who was trapped on a second-floor fire escape. He and his fellow smoke eaters also rescued building owner Milagro Vasquez, who was found unconscious in her second-floor apartment.

“When we pulled up, there was a man on the fire escape,” Igbowu told reporters. “He came down with me on the drop ladder and then he tells us his wife was still inside, so I went through the window, found her and pulled her out.”

Vasquez, her husband and four others were treated for smoke inhalation and light burns at both Long Island College Hospital on Amity Street and New York Methodist Hospital on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. Five firefighters also sustained minor injuries as they battled the blaze, which was under control in a half hour.

It remained unclear what caused the blaze by late Friday, but a FDNY spokesman claimed the Court Street fire had “Collyer’s Mansion” traits — a reference to the infamous brothers were found dead inside their Harlem brownstone in 1947 amid 130 tons of newspapers, magazines, books and furniture they had squirrelled away throughout their lives.

An excessive amount of furniture and other combustible items were found throughout the second and third floors, the spokesman said.

Fire marshals were looking into the possibility that a faulty air conditioner — which was probably turned on for the first time in months because of Friday’s unseasonable 70-degree weather — may have sparked the blaze.

An exhaust vent recently added to the building could have also caused the fire: according to the Department of Buildings, Vasquez installed the vent in 2009 without a permit. But he needed that vent to answer another summons — that one for illegally working on religious statues, which generated a lot of dust, city records show.

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Leslie from Hanley's says:
Hey Buddy!
March 19, 2011, 11:13 am
Cynthia from Clinton Hill says:
Why wasent the Hoarder on TLC? wouldv loved to seen the episode, To bad for the other tenets though.
March 19, 2011, 11:19 am
Debbie from Staten Island says:
now thats my hero all those firefighters in your neighborhood do there job and do it so good so tell mayor Bloomburg to go back and recalculate because if we didnt have all those firefighters the we would have had more fatalities!!!
And yes that is MY BUDDY!!!!
March 19, 2011, 11:30 pm
Debbie from Staten Island says:
THANK GOD FOR 279, 131,101,202 You guys that live in this neighborhood make sure that mayor dont close any of your firehouses because some people might not be as lucky as they were yesterday. Start raising your voices!!!!
March 19, 2011, 11:39 pm
Rescue Joe from the 3rd Floor says:


March 20, 2011, 11:50 pm
Squad HERE!!!!
March 21, 2011, 5:58 pm
Chris from Greenpoint says:
March 22, 2011, 4:16 am
Blame Hip Hop from Park Slope says:
No doubt the hoarding of gold by hip hop emcees influenced this hoarder to hoard whatever material she could get her hands on. The violence that precedes this music is deadly.

So, if you want to point fingers, point fingers at the snoopy dog and "doctor" dray and the obese female rap fan sitting on her blinged out rascal and surrounded by years of newspapers, her oxygen tank and her cigarettes (newports no doubt).
March 24, 2011, 12:34 pm
Danielle from washington state says:
yeah, actually i know these people and they are very nice. they treated me well when i visited years ago with my husband. they are good people and this is a terrible thing to happen.
March 24, 2011, 12:52 pm
Big Guy Pete from 123 Easy Street says:
March 28, 2011, 7:29 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: