Fire Engulfs Gap Building In Fishkill
A fire that broke out Monday night at the Gap Distribution Center in Dutchess County was still not fully under control early this morning. Meanwhile, state and county officials are discussing plans for the displaced workers.
Village of Fishkill Fire Chief Brandon Knapp says about 10:30 Monday night, firefighters were dispatched to the reported blaze in the second level of building 2 of the Gap Distribution Center, a 990,000-square foot commercial building on Merritt Boulevard, just off I-84. Knapp says firefighters were driven out quickly.
“A transition to a defensive attack was made, ultimately resulting in the deployment of numerous fire departments from Dutchess, Putnam and Orange Counties,” Knapp says.
He offers further details.
“We had rapidly deteriorating fire conditions where we went from an offensive attack to a defensive attack within seven minutes,” says Knapp.
He says one firefighter sustained a minor laceration to the lower leg. Knapp says the fire was not under control as of 7 a.m., as there still were some hotspots. He says the incident is being jointly investigated by the New York State Police; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control; and Dutchess County Fire Investigation team. Captain Dominick Chiumento with the state police says the cause of the fire remains under investigation and that all Gap employees were evacuated and accounted for with no reported injuries. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro was on the scene.
“About one-third of a one-million-square-foot building has been damaged. Product damage exceeds well above $1 million worth of product damage,” Molinaro says. “This is the Northeast Distribution Center for Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and some of their other subsidiaries. It’s also, by the way, the Northeast online distribution facility and, in fact, this particular building had significant upgrades to accommodate their online distribution.”
He says Gap has some 600 employees at the Fishkill location. About half were onsite at the time of the fire, with about 200 of them in building 2. Gap occupies two connected buildings on the Fishkill campus. The other building is just less than 2 million square feet. Again, Molinaro.
“My office along with emergency response from Dutchess County has been onsite since very early this morning,” says Molinaro. “We’ve requested a rapid response from the State of New York as it relates to workforce and labor force issues.”
He says there was a scheduled conference call this morning with those agencies involved in assisting displaced workers. And he says Gap, as of now, is paying the displaced workers. Gap is one of the county’s largest private sector employers and numbers ramp up for the holiday season.
“The Gap is in the process now of expanding their employment to prepare for the holiday distribution season,” says Molinaro. “So, at its peak, over the next several weeks, the Gap would employ somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,300 people.”
Molinaro talks about the state of affairs for building 1.
“They’re evaluating what, if any, smoke damage may have occurred in building 1. So at the moment, the entire facility is closed for today,” Molinaro says. “The Gap officials are hopeful that it can open building 1 and make use of it for its standard operations and then attempt to organize some of the work that would have occurred in building 2 in building 1, and that’s a decision they have to make.”
Meanwhile, state police ask that anyone with information about the fire call state police headquarters in Poughkeepsie at 845-677-7300. In 2014, Gap announced it was expanding its 2.3-million square foot Fishkill distribution center. Plans called for the retailer to invest $96 million in the Fishkill campus, and add up to 1,200 jobs by June of 2019. A Gap spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment in time for this broadcast. Audio of the fire chief is courtesy of the Poughkeepsie Journal.