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FDNY says fire at Gowanus Canal warehouse was intentional

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Despite the June 14 fire, large parts of the 1886 warehouse are still intact

Photos by Nathan Kensinger

A fire that ripped through a historic Brooklyn warehouse last month has been deemed suspicious by the FDNY, Crain’s reports. Local residents and elected officials had been trying to get the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse landmarked for quite some time before a two-alarm fire destroyed parts of the 1886 building on the night of June 14.

The warehouse is owned by the Chetrit Group, which filed demo plans for the building last year; those were denied by the Department of Buildings. But local residents later noticed that some demolition work took place without approval from the DOB.

A week after the fire, the DOB determined that demolition work had taken place illegally and issued a stop work order on the site. The FDNY, meanwhile, has determined that the fire was set intentionally, but the case is still under investigation. The developer did not return a request for comment to Crain’s.

The S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse was one of many structures local residents were hoping to protect ahead of a planned rezoning of the Gowanus Canal area. While the warehouse has remained largely intact despite the fire, it remains to be seen if the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will grant protection to a building that has been damaged to this extent.