Balcony Fire in a Tribeca High-Rise Was 'Minutes' Away from Spreading

Smoke rises from a 32nd-floor balcony of 80 North Moore Street in Tribeca where firefighters worked to extinguish the flames. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 29, 2022

A fire on the balcony of a 39-story high-rise in Tribeca on Friday filled the hallways of several floors with smoke, but was only minutes away from becoming much worse, a Fire Department official said. No injuries were reported.

Twenty units and nearly 80 firefighters responded around 5:50 p.m. to the blaze on a 32nd floor apartment balcony of 80 North Moore Street, one of three towers in the Independence Plaza complex. It took about 30 minutes to bring the flames under control, a Fire Department spokesman said. 

Firefighters battled the blaze as it was burning the terrace door, 1st Battalion Chief Gary Cline told the Trib. “A few more minutes and it would have been a very different story. It would have burned through the door,” said Cline, who commanded the operation.

“If the wind had gotten hold of it and got through that door,” the chief added, the fire would have spread to the apartment.

“The smoke really got into our hallway big time,” said Luis Morales, who was in a 31st floor apartment, one floor below. “My lungs are irritated.”

“The smoke was really bad,” said a 26th floor tenant. “I couldn’t get out.”

For some longtime tenants, the high-rise fire brought back memories of the flaming World Trade Center just blocks away. “Here's the headline, said one of those tenants, who was standing outside the building waiting to return to his apartment. We have PTSD from 9/11.

Also waiting to go upstairs was James Rizzo, who lives with his wife Joan on the 34th floor. He said a fireman told him it was safer to shut the door and stay inside. But the couple recalled the fatal decision of those who stayed in the Twin Towers after the buildings had been struck. Although he would have remained, Rizzo said, his wife was adamant about taking the stairs. “I told the fireman, ‘We’re leaving. You tell me which stairwell is better.’”

The cause of the fire is under investigation, officials said.