There was a fire in Rev. Al Sharpton's office today. For those not familiar with New York City's political and activism scene, Al Sharpton is a preacher-turned-civil rights activist and advocate.
FDNY Inspectors are focusing on a POWER STRIP PLUGGED INTO AN EXTENSION CORD THAT WAS RUNNING BEHIND SOME BOXES as the possible cause.
Here is the story from the January 22, 2002 New York Daily News:
Extension cord may have caused fire at Rev. Al's HQ
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
An electrical fire tore through the Rev. Al Sharpton's Harlem headquarters, gutting its reception hall and causing damage throughout its offices just one day after Sharpton joined the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Fire investigators were focusing on an extension cord as the cause of the Wednesday morning blaze, Chief Fire Marshal Louis Garcia said. Based on witness accounts and a fire department investigation, a power strip was plugged into the extension cord, which had boxes resting on it, Garcia said.
"It looks like an electrical short," he said.
The fire, reported around 8:30 a.m., spread quickly through the reception hall of Sharpton's National Action Network, bringing dozens of firefighters to the three-story brick building before the blaze was extinguished a little more than an hour later. One man was treated for smoke inhalation.
"The entire auditorium is gone," Sharpton spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger said. "The place is definitely devastated."
Known as the House of Justice, the reception hall and its adjoining office have served as Sharpton's political base. From there, he has presided over countless press conferences, castigating and cajoling city and national leaders.
An adjoining office that houses financial records was mostly undamaged but was not immediately usable, Noerdlinger and fire officials said. Sharpton was looking for a temporary location for his live weekend radio broadcast, she said.
Sharpton filed papers in Washington Tuesday to join the race for the Democrats' 2004 presidential nomination, saying the party needed to expand its base of support.
He toured his damaged offices with New York's chief fire marshal after arriving from Washington Wednesday afternoon. He later declared that the blaze would "in no way abate in any shape or form" his run for president.
Sharpton's longtime office manager said he was alone in the second-floor headquarters when he went to the bathroom, came out, smelled smoke and fled, Noerdlinger said. He was interviewed by fire investigators Wednesday in the presence of Sharpton and the group's attorney, Noerdlinger said.
The fire spread to the third floor, occupied by the Israeli Church of UPK. A 23-year-old man pulled from a third-floor window to safety by firefighters and taken to Harlem Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.
Fire marshals also interviewed the man and a cook from a West Indian restaurant on the first floor.
Dignitaries including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer had joined Sharpton at the offices Monday for a forum commemorating the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.