Man Recalls Pipe Break Before New York Tower Fire

April 27, 2011

An asbestos-cleanup worker testified at a manslaughter trial that three construction-company supervisors learned quickly about a dramatic break in a firefighting water pipe linked to a deadly blaze.

Adolpho Ortiz testified Monday that workers heard a piece of the pipe plunge off the former Deutsche Bank building’s basement ceiling in autumn 2006.

Manhattan prosecutors say the supervisors knew about, but didn’t fix, the break. They say that became a fatal factor in an August 2007 blaze that claimed two firefighters.

Ortiz says he summoned foreman Salvatore DePaola. He says cleanup director Mitchel Alvo and site safety supervisor Jeffrey Melofchik soon followed.

The defendants say they didn’t recognize the pipe’s role. They say they’re being scapegoated for myriad hazards and regulatory failures.

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