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City Fines NYU Contractor for Unsafe Conditions After Workers Spark Fire

By Noah Hurowitz | December 15, 2016 5:22pm
 The fire spewed a cloud of black smoke over lower Manhattan, witnesses said.
The fire spewed a cloud of black smoke over lower Manhattan, witnesses said.
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Composite with Twitter/@juggiefresh845 and R. P. Tanaka

KIPS BAY — The city has fined a contractor at an NYU Langone Medical Center construction site in the wake of a fire that sent plumes of black smoke into the air on Wednesday, according to a Department of Buildings spokesman.

The agency issued the fine alongside a stop-work order preventing any "hot work" — cutting, welding or work that could be a fire hazard — on the entire construction site at 424 E. 34th St. after finding the contractor had failed to safeguard flammable materials on the property, a spokesman said.

NYU and its contractors have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in fines at the site in the past year, with 16 outstanding Environmental Control Board violations —including two for $24,000 and two for $10,000 — and five DOB fines for failing to comply with the ECB violations, records show.

Prior to the fire, the site had $75,300 in outstanding fines, according to DOB records. A DOB spokesman did not immediately say how much Wednesday’s fine would cost the contractor.

The fire began when workers were cutting metal and a spark flew onto a roofing insulation material called "rigid board" and caught fire on the seventh floor of 424 E. 34th St., a vacant property that's currently under construction, about 12:13 p.m., FDNY officials said.

NYU Langone has been carrying out a massive renovation to its campus, building outpatient care facilities in the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Pavilion and the Tisch Hospital. 

A spokeswoman for NYU did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the fines.