Demolition to resume at New York skyscraper damaged by 9/11 after deadly fire

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thick smoke rises from the building during the August 18th fire

Demolition work is set to resume at the former Deutsche Bank Building in New York after work was halted last August over a fire that killed two firefighters. The city's Department of Buildings lifted an order to cease work imposed at the time as the buiding's owners have installed fire control systems at the condemned 26 storey office block.

The building was seriously damaged in the September 11, 2001 attacks as the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, filling the building with debris, much of it toxic. In subsequent years fragmental remains of hundreds of victims from the disaster were removed from the building and regulators had lengthy debates over how the tower should be demolished.

After the fire, work immediately halted and a grand jury criminal investigation followed. The fire is thought to have been triggered by a cigarette discarded by a worker on the site, which will ultimately home one of five new towers planned for the area devastated by the attacks. Of major importance were polyethylene and plywood decontamination barriers which both fueled the blaze and hindered the movement of firefighters. It is thought they may have blocked escape for the two who were killed by the fire.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, who owns the property, says 300 asbestos removal workers are set to begin shifts of six days per week are set to clear toxic material remaining on 19 floors of the tower. This means the work force has increased by one hundred. Decontamination chambers will now be present across all floors instead of merely the ground floor.

Amongst the new safety measures are fire-proof sheetrock decontaminaton chambers, improved safety within the actual chambers and two fire-rated interior stairways. The modifications were made by LVI Environmental Services with work commencing in February this year.

The tower at 130 Liberty Street was originally intended to be gone by 2005, but the deadline was expanded to 2008. The fire means the work has been delayed a year with a revised estimated time of completion being 2009.


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