TIME Disaster

Firefighters Battle Massive Blaze Amid Freezing Temperatures in NYC

Largest blaze FDNY has battled since 2006

Around 270 firefighters and emergency medical services personnel were working to contain a seven-alarm fire on the New York City waterfront Saturday.

The blaze, which engulfed a storage building in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, cast thick, black smoke across the New York City skyline.

Firefighters are expected to be on the scene for days and possibly weeks, a FDNY spokesperson told TIME. Attempts to contain the fire were hampered by sub-freezing temperatures and high gusts of wind.

The fire is the largest the FDNY has battled since a 2006 fire at the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse, also in Brooklyn.

 

TIME fire

New Jersey Fire Leaves 1,000 Homeless

Massive fire at apartment complex in New Jersey
Firefighters at the scene after a fire broke out in an apartment complex at in Edgewater, N.J. on Jan. 22, 2015. Cem Ozdel—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze

A massive fire at a luxury apartment complex in New Jersey on Wednesday night left more than 1,000 people homeless on Thursday.

There were no deaths in the blaze that destroyed the complex in Edgewater, just across the Hudson River from New York City, NJ.com reports, and only a few minor injuries were reported. Officials were still investigating the cause of the fire Thursday morning. The Avalon complex was quickly engulfed in flames that destroyed 240 units, leaving 500 residents homeless. It then spread to nearby homes, displacing another 500.

“Everyone got out,” Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland said. “You can always rebuild.”

[NJ.com]

TIME Italy

Charred Greek Ferry Towed to Italy Overnight

Greece Ferry Fire
Rescue equipment is unloaded from a helicopter aboard the Norman Atlantic on Dec. 28, 2014 AP

Firefighters and a prosecutor will then board the wreck to search for bodies

(BRINDISI, ITALY) — The charred wreck of a Greek ferry has reached an Italian port after an overnight tow across choppy Adriatic seas, and authorities will soon board to search for any more bodies from the blaze that killed at least 11 people.

Tugboat company owner Giuseppe Barretta told The Associated Press in Brindisi port that authorities were meeting Friday morning to see exactly where it should dock.

Firefighters and a prosecutor will then board the wreck to search for bodies and the cause of the blaze that broke out Sunday.

Towing began Thursday afternoon and took nearly 17 hours.

Italy says 477 people were rescued, mostly by daring helicopter rescues that plucked survivors off the top deck one or two at a time in gale-force winds

TIME Italy

8 Dead After Passengers Evacuated From Burning Italian Ferry

Passenger is helped as he leaves from the " Spirit of Piraeus" cargo container ship as they arrive in Bari harbour, after the car ferry Norman Atlantic caught fire in waters off Greece
A passenger is helped as he leaves from the " Spirit of Piraeus" cargo container ship as they arrive in Bari harbour, after the car ferry Norman Atlantic caught fire in waters off Greece December 29, 2014. Reuters

427 people were rescued, including 56 crew members

At least eight passengers have died after a grueling evacuation of an Italian ferry was completed Monday, more than 24 hours after the ship burst into flames Sunday in the Adriatic Sea.

Search efforts are continuing after the all survivors were evacuated by Monday afternoon, with 427 people rescued, including 56 crew members, from the Norman Atlantic ferry, the Associated Press reported.

The original ferry manifest contained 422 passengers and 56 crew members, but officials said it was too early to speculate if people were still missing, as some may have not boarded the ferry. Officials also said some survivors were not listed on the manifest, which suggests they had been traveling illegally.

Poor weather conditions and choppy seas reportedly slowed rescue efforts being carried out by Italian and Greek authorities.

“It will be a very difficult night. A night in which we hope we will be able to rescue all on board,” said Greek Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, according to the Associated Press.

Medical personnel had been dropped on to the ferry to treat passengers who were believed to be suffering from hypothermia as they waited for rescuers to evacuate the rest of the ship.

Officials last inspected the craft less than two weeks ago and six deficiencies were reportedly discovered; however, the vessel was still deemed seaworthy, according to AP.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday morning on the ferry’s car deck, when nearly 500 people were on board, including 422 passengers and 56 crew members.

[AP]

TIME natural disaster

See the Worst Natural Disasters of 2014

When it comes to acts of God, 2014 wasn’t a particularly active year. No powerful hurricane struck the U.S. like Sandy in 2012 or Katrina in 2005. There was no singlecatastrophic event like the Asian tsunami of 2004, which killed nearly 300,000 people, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, which killed over 200,000, or even the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland in 2010, which disrupted air travel for weeks.

But while there wasn’t a single iconic catastrophe, Mother Earth was still plenty busy in 2014. A volcano in Hawaii, a typhoon in the Philippines, wildfires in California and seven feet of snow in Buffalo—this year has witnessed its share of extreme weather and other natural disasters. The photos that follow are a reminder that when the Earth moves or the heavens strike, the results can be gorgeous to see—provided you’re not caught in the middle.

MORE: The most beautiful wildfire photos you’ll ever see

TIME advice

A Foolproof Guide to Building a Better Fire

Oh the weather outside is frightful... here's how to build a fire that'll be so delightful

Building a wintertime fire doesn’t have to be intimidating—we demystified the process with this simple chart.

fire lifecycle
Graphic by Katie Field

One last tip: The process is the same for a woodstove—except it’s more forgiving. There’s no need to stress about using wood that doesn’t spark or leaving the fire unattended. Reference the stove’s instructions, but in general keep the primary and secondary vents fully open for 10 to 15 minutes. Then leave the primary vent open a crack and the secondary open a third of the way.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

More from Real Simple:

TIME Disaster

See the Massive Fire That Illuminated Downtown L.A.

A large blaze lit up the Los Angeles skyline early Monday morning, consuming an entire city block

TIME cities

Eight Firefighters Were Injured Battling a Los Angeles Blaze

The fire occurred in a storage building full of combustibles but without a sprinkler system

A huge blaze in a “death trap” of a building in Los Angeles led to eight firefighters sustaining injuries, local fire officials have said.

The building, a storage facility, was packed with flammable materials, including vinyl records and furniture, yet it had no sprinkler system, was organized “like a mouse maze,” and had poor ventilation, Reuters reports.

More than 360 firefighters were called in to fight the “extremely hot and stubborn major emergency blaze” on Saturday overnight, the Los Angeles fire department said in a statement. Though much of it was contained within six hours, putting the fire out took just over 14 hours in total.

“Firefighters battled until they were low on air, and had to exit to get new air bottles, then rejoined the fight,” the department says. Firefighters also had to slice through the building’s metal roof to let smoke escape.

Five of the eight injured firefighters, all of whom suffered non-life-threatening injuries, required hospital care but were released, the fire department said.

About one-third of the building was damaged in the blaze, and “loss to the building’s contents, which included many family heirlooms, is inestimable,” the department says.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

[Reuters]

TIME Autos

More Than 200,000 GM Cars Have Been Recalled for a Brake Defect

Los Angeles Auto Show Previews Latest Car Models
The Cadillac 2013 XTS is unveiled during the LA Auto Show on November 16, 2011 in Los Angeles. Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

The problem has been reported in the 2013-2015 Cadillac XTS and the 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala

The latest in a series of recalls from General Motors was announced over the weekend, with hundreds of thousands of cars being pulled off the roads due to defective parking brakes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that brake-indicator lights in at least two GM models failed to illuminate when the brake was not retracted completely, according to Reuters.

“Brake pads that remain partially engaged with the rotors may cause excessive brake heat that may result in a fire,” NHTSA said.

The problem has been reported in the 2013-2015 Cadillac XTS and the 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala, and General Motors said 221,558 vehicles have been recalled so far.

“GM is not aware of any crashes, injuries or fatalities as a result of this condition,” the company said.

General Motors has already recalled more than 15 million cars this year, because of a problem with ignition switches that has resulted in at least 19 deaths.

[Reuters]

TIME Tablets

Amazon Unveils $99 Tablet, Refresh of Fire HDX Line

The kiddie Fire HD prohibits tots from making in-app purchases--a solution to an issue the company has run into in the past

A slew of new products and updates to Amazon’s Kindle reader and Fire tablet lines are on their way, the company announced Wednesday–the biggest announcement of all that they’ll offer a new Fire device for just $99.

The new Fire HD comes in six and seven-inch models, with the smaller version costing $99 and the larger one costing $139. The device features a quad-core, 1.5 Ghz processor that Amazon says can run graphically intensive games. Front and rear-facing cameras should make selfies a breeze, and all the new devices will have unlimited photo storage in Amazon’s cloud services. The company claims that its new tiny tablets are more resistant to falls than any other devices on the market, including the iPad Air.

Amazon is also rolling out a slightly more expensive but nearly identical product aimed at kids. The Fire HD Kids Edition will have all the same features as the regular edition, but will also include a kid-centric interface called FreeTime, which serves up videos, books and apps aimed at children. The FreeTime mode prohibits kids from making in-app purchases–an issue Amazon has been accused of negligence on by the Federal Trade Commission. (Amazon is challenging those allegations in court).

The kiddie Fire HD also comes with a colorful protective case and a free year of FreeTime Unlimited, which is an all-you-can-eat subscription-based service that gives kids access to a variety of entertainment content. The 6-inch kids’ tablet is $149 and the 7-inch version is $189.

On the other end of the audience spectrum, Amazon announced a new version of a high-end tablet, the Fire HDX, which features an 8.9-inch screen, has a faster processor that clocks in at 2.5 Ghz, and which, at 13.2 ounces, is 20% lighter than the iPad Air. The new Fire HDX will also feature faster Wi-Fi, improved Dolby audio and a new dynamic light control system that changes the display to accommodate ambient light, making it more similar to the paper-like screen of the Kindle.

Amazon will also include a suite of office software called WPS Office, to encourage using the Fire HDX (and the cheaper Fire HD) as a productivity device. A super-thin keyboard made specifically for the new tablet will sell separately for $59.99. The HDX will cost $379 for the basic version, while the 4G-enabled version will cost $479.

Tying all these products together will be a new version of Amazon’s mobile operating system, Fire OS 4 (also known as “Sangria”). The new OS is packed with a lot of new features, including a service called Family Library that allows family members to share games, videos and other content they’ve purchased across multiple devices. Family members will also be able to create individual profiles on a single device with different app and content lineups to allow for easier sharing.

Fire OS 4 also pulls in some of the most prominent features from Amazon’s two new product lines this year: the Fire TV and the Fire Phone. Firefly, which lets people scan real-world objects to find out more information about them, will now be available on all the tablets, as will a video pre-buffering feature from the Fire TV called Advanced Streaming and Prediction. The popular Mayday button, which provides 24/7 customer support, will also make a return.

The devices continue Amazon’s habit of undercutting competitors on price by selling fairly sophisticated products at relatively low cost. It’s a strategy that’s a boon for customers, if not for Amazon’s bottom line. The company lost $126 million in the most recent quarter.

All the devices are available for pre-order now on Amazon.com and will begin shipping in October.

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