Two firefighters were injured yesterday while fighting a fire at an East Side homeless shelter that serves as the main processing hub for all single homeless men in the city, authorities said.
Around 1:30 p.m., some garbage caught fire in the basement of the Bellevue Men's Shelter, at the corner of 30th Street and First Avenue, a fire department spokesman said.
Firefighters arrived on the scene soon afterward, and put the blaze out at 2:19 p.m., the spokesman said. Two of the firefighters suffered minor injuries, and one was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center, but no one from the shelter was injured, he added.
The building was temporarily evacuated, but by 3 p.m. people were let back in, and no one was relocated for the night, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services said.
The fire department commander on the scene, Deputy Chief James Daly, said the fire broke out in a storage area but did not spread to other floors. The department has begun an investigation into the cause of the fire.
The shelter has spaces for people to sleep but is primarily used as an intake center for single homeless men, the Homeless Services spokeswoman said. The men come there, are processed, and then are sent to other shelters, she said.
Residents said the fire burned for some time before action was taken. "The fire was going on for about an hour before the alarm went off," a 61-year-old resident of the shelter, Richard Ryan, said.
Bellevue Men's Shelter is at the center of a political debate about the future of the city's homeless aid program. The Bloomberg administration is seeking to move intake procedures to a building in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, but residents of the neighborhood have resisted the move.