Jan. 5, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
New Year’s revelers set off fireworks on a Long Island City pier last Friday that caused the wooden floorboards to catch fire and burn a gaping hole through the boardwalk.
A section of Pier 3, located at Gantry Plaza State Park, was scorched by the fireworks that went off after midnight on New Year’s Day. The pier has since been shut down to the public.
Firefighters responded to reports of a fire on the pier at around 6:30 a.m. and extinguished the flames, the FDNY said.
The FDNY did not reveal the cause of the fire, however, a number of residents said that they saw fireworks being set off at the location earlier that morning. The FDNY is still investigating the incident.
Firefighters were seen cutting off some of the charred wood on the pier once the fire was put out. The damage resulted in a large hole that is estimated to be around 8 feet long and 6 feet wide. The damage is located at the beginning of the pier.
There also appears to be structural damage to the cross beams, according to photo images. It is not known who is responsible for the fire and the NYPD said it is waiting on the outcome of the FDNY’s investigation before commenting.
All of Pier 3 – as well as its connecting walk bridge – will remain closed to the public as a safety precaution until the damage is completely repaired, according to the NYS Parks Dept.
“We’re setting up a full engineering evaluation to assess the extent of the damage,” Leslie Wright, regional director of the NYS Parks Dept. said. “We will then take whatever steps are necessary to repair it, get it safe and get it open.”
Wright said the cost of the damage will not be known until the evaluation is completed. She said that the Parks Dept. has erected a barricade with a sign to block the pier off to the public. The barricade is located at the entrance to the footbridge.
Mark Christie, a long-time Hunters Point resident said that he heard fireworks going off from the location at midnight and again two hours later.
“I could hear big loud fireworks going off when I went to bed at around 2 a.m. and I could smell burn,” Christie said.
“I thought it was just from the fireworks and didn’t realize it was from the pier.”
Christie said he had hoped for a better start to the new year given that the park was plagued by antisocial behavior, graffiti, and other acts of vandalism in 2020.
“It is disappointing things haven’t been nipped in the bud yet,” he said. Christie also serves as the vice president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy.