Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
Feb. 7—STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A Staten Island maritime museum was all-but destroyed early Sunday morning by a fire that originated on the first floor and tore through the entire Rosebank building.
A dozen FDNY units responded just after 3 a.m. to the Museum of Maritime Navigation and Communication, located at 1208 Bay Street, where flames originated on the first floor, an FDNY spokesman said Sunday.
The museum’s founder, Samir Farag, surveyed the damage hours later.
“The neighbor called saying, ‘The building is on fire’— so I got dressed and I came here,” Farag said.
Flames tore through all three floors of the building, destroying many of the artifacts either on display or stored on the upper levels.
No civilians were injured, however, an apartment next door also sustained major damages.
About 60 firefighters responded Sunday, placing the incident under control by about 4 a.m. One firefighter was transported to Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze, with unknown injuries, the spokesman said.
The fire occurred about three months after the first-floor ceiling of the museum was renovated, said Farag. He said he was planning to replace the front of the building’s wood paneling with a large window along Bay Street.
“There’s a bus stop there, so we wanted people to be able to see inside,” he said.
Farag said fire marshals indicated the blaze started in a corner of the first floor, in the vicinity of a computer.
“It was just one computer, plugged into a power strip with a surge protector,” Farag said.
The FDNY said the cause of the fire was uncertain and remained under investigation Sunday.
Farag said once he can fully catalogue the damage, he might be able to repair some of the items himself, as the future of the museum remains uncertain.
“This is what I did for my 50 plus years as an engineer, fixing old maritime equipment,” said Farag.
Under his leadership, the museum’s board has for years worked to preserve marine electronic equipment and local maritime history, specifically as it pertains to Staten Island.
In 2019, more than 100 Staten Islanders— including current and former public officials— attended a fundraising event to help support that effort.
According to the museum’s website, educational programs over the years have been provided with the intent of “stimulating the interests of children and adults in our community— and encouraging the study, understanding and appreciation [of local maritime history].”
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