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The Devil painted the town red early Friday morning, December 19 1997, making 5 stops in 2 boroughs and claiming the life of 1 civilian.
The first stop was just after midnight in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn at 1170 Bushwick Avenue. The Bethesda Baptist Church only hours before was filled with parishioners for their nightly service. Fire broke out in the cellar of the 104 year old stone church and consumed the contents of the basement, main floor and altar.
Upon arrival, companies discovered heavy fire in the cellar extending to the main floor. They quickly had 3 hand lines operating on the fire. When they started to open the walls on the main floor the discovered that the fire was spreading upwards through voids behind the walls.
As the fire continued to extend onto the main floor all members were withdrawn and an exterior attack commenced using tower ladders and hand lines.
Thirty seven minutes after the third alarm was transmitted, the Devil struck again; this time in the East New York section of Brooklyn.
At 1:30 A.M. the ERS box on the corner of Pitkin Avenue and Elton Street was activated. The caller reported an odor of smoke in the area. Fire fighters searched the area and wound up in front of 2411 Pitkin Avenue. A 3 story brick 20 x 60 building containing a grocery store on the first floor, and dwellings above.
Heavy fire greeted them at the front door and a second alarm soon followed. Tin ceilings and a heavy stock load hampered the searches of the building. Another discovery made in the building will land the owner in a vat of hot water; the cellar was being used as a dentist's office.
Despite the labor intensive effort, the fire was brought under control at 2:38 A.M. The Church fire went under control 9 minutes later.
Manhattan fire fighters were next on the hit parade with a quick warm up in the Union Square area. At 2:00 A.M. fire broke out in one apartment at 9 East 16 Street. The one line fire was quickly extinguished and was declared probably will hold 13 minutes later operating with an extra engine and truck over the all-hands assignment.
As that incident was drawing to a close, 2 boxes were transmitted at the same time; 38 blocks apart (1.8 miles). The first one was at 100 Park Avenue in Midtown, a Chinese restaurant inside a 20 story 300 x 300 high-rise office building. The fire was contained to the duct work.
The other fire was in Loisaida (Alphabet City) at 150 East 2 Street. A 6 story brick 50 x 75 multiple dwelling. The fire in apartment 4A claimed the life of the occupant.
By 4 A.M. most of the relocated units had been returned to their own quarters. Some semblance of calm had been restored to the big city.