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Brooklyn, NY -- A major warehouse fire sent personal effects such as medical records, pictures, court transcripts, and other confidential records into the air and around the neighborhood of Williamsburg.
While no lives were lost in the fire, there was a lot of destruction. Most notable, bank account, medical, and court information was strewn throughout the neighborhood. New York City has sent disaster recovery staff to collect the debris, but the documents were everywhere.
"If you try to steal an identity, I'm sure if you looked at that piece of paper, you'd find a medical record," said Sherry Hanson, a neighbor of the warehouse.
Major government agencies housed their documents at this warehouse: New York court system, Administration for Children's Services,Health and Hospital Corp, and local hospitals. It also held financial and law documents.
So many documents were released that it clogged a water intake system of a fireboat working to fight the warehouse fire. Documents were strewn all over the beach and carried off in the water.
The city learned the problem of storing important documents at waterfront facilities after Hurricane Sandy and had plans to move them, but have yet to do so. Now, confidential records are swept into the water to be carried by the current.
The fire reached 7 alarms at 6:20am on Saturday. The event that made this fire grow so large is that a smaller fire started earlier that day, activating fire sprinklers. The fire sprinklers were then shut off to replace the heads. A second fire started while the fire sprinklers were turned off, causing it to grow out of control.