Katy Golvala


At the beginning of this year, it seemed like there were a ton of fires happening in the neighborhood. In February, Bushwick Daily wrote about a fire that destroyed a multi-family home and the possessions of its ten residents. Another blaze that same month partially destroyed a Chinese restaurant on Wilson Avenue and required 60 firefighters to respond.

This surge of stories prompted us to figure out how Bushwick stacks up against other neighborhoods when it comes to fires.

According to FDNY data, there were around 550 fires in Bushwick in 2017, which averages to about 1 or 2 per day. Most of these incidents were one-alarm fires, indicating the lowest level of severity, but 26 were “all-hands incidents,” meaning that they required a minimum of four fire units in response.

About 60 percent of Bushwick fires happened in buildings; the other 40 percent were non-structural, occurring in brush, rubbish, or automobiles.

Bushwick isn’t the neighborhood with the biggest fire problem in Brooklyn, however; it ranks 12th for most fire incidents in the borough. Brooklyn Community District 1, comprised of East Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Northside, Southside, and Williamsburg, had the most fires in 2017 with 1,095 reported incidents.

Talking about size, the most fires per square mile occurred within Brooklyn Community District 16, which includes Broadway Junction and Brownsville. That district had 762 fires in 2017 and represents an astounding rate of 400 fires per square mile. By comparison, Community District 1 had 230 fires per square mile.

Bushwick had around 280 fires per square mile, the seventh-highest rate in Brooklyn in 2017.

Fire plays a critical role in Bushwick’s history. In July 1977, one of the largest fires ever in New York City ravaged seven blocks around Knickerbocker Avenue and Bleecker Street, injuring 50 people and leaving 65 families homeless. The incident brought significant media attention to the issues in the neighborhood, which had been experiencing an economic crisis because of riots and looting that occurred in the wake of the New York City blackout. As a result, the city began to invest in rebuilding Bushwick, which lead to a rebirth of the neighborhood.

So that’s your Bushwick Friday Fact of the week. Have a question about the neighborhood that you want us to try and answer using data? Leave a comment below!

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Cover image courtesy of Arny Mogensen