Firefighters struggled to battle a blaze at a Fort Greene public housing complex on Monday after a broken water pipe forced them to use an extinguisher to stop the inferno, which burned for 36 minutes before they put it out.
Sixty of New York’s Bravest responded to the mattress fire on the 13th floor of the building in the Walt Whitman Houses on Cumberland Walk near Park Avenue at 1:07 pm and plugged their hose into the pipe, only to find that nothing came out, according to a witness.
“They were desperately trying to put a fire out for 15 minutes and they couldn’t get the water out of there,” said photographer Paul Martinka, who was at the scene.
The responders found water after moving to another floor in the building, Martinka said, but not before they resorted to fight the flames with the extinguisher. The blaze injured no one, but the building sustained damages.
The fire department could not connect its hose to the pipe because someone damaged it between monthly inspections, according to a rep for the New York City Housing Authority, who praised the firefighters for their quick thinking.
“A standpipe was vandalized causing a malfunction when it was needed most and we are grateful for our partners in the fire department for their quick action,” said spokeswoman Zodet Negron.
The housing authority reported the damage to the police department and the pipe is now fixed, she said.