Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fire Marshals Bring in Dog to Sniff for Arson in Greenpoint Fire

As part of their investigation into the fire that devastated a warehouse complex on the Brooklyn waterfront this month, fire marshals turned yesterday to a special investigator — a 5-year-old golden retriever named Bucca. It was not clear whether the dog — trained to detect accelerants and sit when he smells them — had shed any further light on the fire's origins.

Fire officials said that investigators were also pursuing a few leads gleaned from surveillance videotapes shot near the scene of the fire on May 2.

In the last week, the marshals have focused their efforts on the building where the fire is believed to have started, working to clear tons of debris from it.

By yesterday morning, they had removed enough bricks and charred wood to expose a patch of concrete floor the size of a generous two-bedroom apartment.

On that floor, they are hoping to decipher any patterns left by the fire, or find traces of flammable liquids that an arsonist might have used.

The fire, which leveled at least 10 buildings in the Greenpoint Terminal Market, attracted attention not just for its size and what was destroyed, but also because of the history of, and plans for, the complex.

The buildings, which were bought by a developer, Joshua Guttman, in 2001, were at the center of a failed real estate deal last year.

Neighborhood groups and preservationists also had an interest in the complex, which was scheduled to be demolished to make way for high-rise apartment buildings.

Reflecting the high-profile nature of the fire, officials announced yesterday that they had formed a joint task force to investigate the fire. The group included members of the Police and Fire Departments, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and marshals from the state's Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

This week, construction crews working for the owner, Mr. Guttman, quickly erected a fence around most of the site.

Soon after the fire, the city's Department of Environmental Protection ordered Mr. Guttman to secure the site at all times.

The developer has attracted some scrutiny in the days since the blaze, as a history of other fires at some of the dozens of properties he owns throughout the city has emerged, from records culled by the fire marshals. At least four of those fires were ruled arson. Mr. Guttman, through his lawyers, has said he had nothing to do with any of the fires.

The building the fire marshals have focused on, on the northwest corner of the complex, was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Because there was no electricity flowing to that building, which was believed to be vacant, fire officials called the fire suspicious.

That was the building that Bucca toured yesterday morning, sniffing through the bricks and wood for a whiff of residue that is left by ignitable liquids.

The dog, who is named for Ronald Bucca, a fire marshal who died on Sept. 11, 2001, lives in Albany, and travels around the state helping with fire investigations, said Larry Sombke, a spokesman for the State Office of Fire Prevention.

Yesterday afternoon, after a week of occasionally frenzied activity around the destroyed buildings, the work seemed to slow down. In a white van marked K-9 Unit, Bucca and his handlers drove away.


so dov is headed to israel again. DOes he do any work for US in Albany?
He should be assemblyman of YESHA. He does NOTHING for us here.


He does nothing for them there either. Just ask around and yu'll here the same.


Give Dov Hikind some credit though
at least he has a keen interest in
supporting and giving " Chizuk"
to the Jews facing eviction lat year in Gush Katif , or in the case this year supporting our
brothers in Gaza,
what have our senators and congressman done for us here
last time i looked Gasoline was at
$3.39 a gallon
lets have some " Hakoras Hatov "


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