City councilmembers and other city leaders say the air is safe to breathe following a massive Brooklyn warehouse fire that took several days to put out.
Officials told residents at a Monday night town hall meeting that symptoms like sore throat and headaches are normal reactions to smoke exposure, saying those symptoms usually go away untreated. They also quelled concerns about a toxic chemical called Dioxin, saying it was likely in the smoke, but in trace amounts that are considered safe as long as there isn't repeated exposure.
The city also said that waiting 14 hours after the fire to send a health advisory was a mistake.
“We believe that did take too long, that should've happened sooner,” said councilmember Stephen Levin.
The fire at the Williamsburg warehouse ignited earlier this month and took nearly a week to extinguish.
The building on North 11th Street, operated by CitiStorage, housed paper records for several city agencies, including the Health Department and the Health and Hospitals Corporation. Those paper records, along with high winds, fueled the fire Saturday as nearly 275 fire and emergency personnel battled the flames in frigid temperatures.
No one died in the fire, but one minor injury was reported. A civilian outside the structure suffered from smoke inhalation. The cause remains under investigation.
Attorney Michael Ronemus, who stored hundreds of boxes of files at the warehouse, is suing the city for $20 million, saying the fire department failed to make sure the sprinklers were working after another fire that happened that same morning.
The fire chief says building maintenance was called to turn the sprinklers back on after the earlier fire was put out and firefighters left. When they returned, the building was fully engulfed in flames, fire officials say.