The calls came in after the Marly Building Supply lumber company, located at 858 Meeker Ave., went up in flames, causing a five-alarm response from nearby firehouses at around 12:20 a.m. Firefighters fought the blaze for nearly eight hours while also fighting the frigid cold.
According to reports, difficulties with operating the frozen hydrants caused some delays, ultimately allowing the blaze to spread and worsen.
Brooklyn Battalion 32 Chief Tom Schmitt was on site the following morning while firefighters doused the remaining pockets of fire in the building.
“We just have to rotate guys because of the cold,” he said as he patrolled the perimeter of the building. “We’re just putting out pockets of fire because of inaccessibility due to the nature of the lumber yard.”
The blaze was originally declared “under control” around 5:30 a.m., according to Schmitt.
Nearly 20 engine companies and 12 ladder companies were called to assist in dousing out the inferno, he estimated.
“We’re trying to coordinate with the utilities to make sure the place is safe,” Schmitt noted.
Even the following morning, firefighters still worked in limited shifts as the cold weather, according to Schmitt, can be “debilitating” to work in.
“We try to maintain how long we can do that because of their ability to stay warm,” he said. “There’s exhaustion that factors in so we have to make sure that we keep rotating people in and out.”
While they continued to douse the building in water throughout the afternoon on Saturday, those who saw reports on the morning news gathered to take pictures while contractors were met with surprise as they came to pick up their orders.
Mazmul Mohammed lives in Williamsburg and works for a contractor in the neighborhood. Like many on Saturday morning, he was surprised to see what happened to his supplier.
“I come down here down here when I need something,” Mohammed said. “I come here to get the sand or sometimes cement.”
Standing across the street with others gazing in disbelief, Mohammad asked, “Now there is nobody over there? Are they closed today?”
Distraught from seeing the charred building, he continued, “I guess I will have to go somewhere else now.”