27 People Injured in Basement Fire in Water Street High-Rise

By Jeanmarie Evelly and Alan Neuhauser  on November 23, 2012 12:34pm  | Updated on November 23, 2012 2:15pm

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Twenty-seven people were injured in a basement electrical fire in a Water Street building Friday morning, the FDNY reported.

The blaze broke out in the basement of 55 Water St., near South Street, about 9:45 a.m., a fire spokesman said.

Four people were transported to New York Downtown Hospital, firefighters said.

The others who were injured, including a firefighter and a Consolidated Edison worker, were treated at the scene and released.

All of the victims were treated for smoke inhalation and none of their injuries were considered life-threatening, officials said.

The building, a 54-story skyscraper that overlooks the FDR Drive, had only recently had its power restored following Hurricane Sandy, said Mary Ann Tighe, a leasing agent for the property. She declined to say when the electricity was turned on, but she said no one has worked in the building since the superstorm struck Oct. 29.

"We're standing by and getting more information," Tighe said.

The fire, which was extinguished shortly after it started, appeared to have been sparked by "some kind of short" in the building's electrical equipment, said Harry Bridgwood, executive vice president of New Water Street, the property's management company.

The precise cause is under investigation, according to the FDNY.

"It's a 3.8-million-square-foot building. These things happen," Bridgwood said.

He added that New Water Street hopes to open the building to tenants next week.

The high-rise has attracted international attention as the home of Peregrine falcons.

For 13 years, a falcon couple — first Jack and Diane, and later Jack and Jill — raised hatchlings atop Water Street, most recently quadruplets named Jordan, Shattuck, Hope and Austin. The building set up a special website for the falcons, allowing people from around the world to follow them via live webcam and news releases.

The falcons stopped laying eggs and disappeared early this year, workers and residents at 55 Water St. told DNAinfo.com New York.

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