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Students Lose Years Of Work In Fire At Historic Pratt Institute Building

Many Are Now Hoping Art Supply Stores And Art Enthusiasts Will Offer Up Help
Students seek donations after fire destroys Pratt Institute building (credit: Sonia Rincon, 1010 WINS)

Students seek donations after fire destroys Pratt Institute building (credit: Sonia Rincon, 1010 WINS)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A four-alarm fire damaged the main campus building at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

The fire started around 2 a.m. Friday in the Main Hall building at the private arts college.

The six-story building’s roof and its sixth floor were gutted, the school said in a statement. The fifth floor was also badly damaged by the fire and there is water damage throughout the building.

Some of Pratt’s seniors lost years’ worth of work.

Thomas Shapiro lost paintings he planned to sell to help pay for school, but he considered himself among the luckier ones.

“One of my good friends was actually just about to go for an interview over at Yale for grad school and her entire portfolio got destroyed,” Shapiro told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.

He said it hurts to see all that effort and labor lost.

“It’s the time, the energy, it’s the raw emotion that goes into being an artist,” Shapiro said.

Athena Castillo lost her thesis show in the fire — years’ worth of her own creations.

“We’re trying to make art right now to have a thesis show, but the reality is we’re not gonna get what we wanted out of it.  It’s four years of work that was up there,” Castillo said.

Students like German Yanez, who didn’t lose any of his work, are collecting donations in the shadow of of the burned building. He said a lot of those brushes and paints aren’t cheap.

Students seek donations in the shadows of destroyed Pratt Institute building (credit: Sonia Rincon, 1010 WINS)

Students seek donations in the shadows of destroyed Pratt Institute building (credit: Sonia Rincon, 1010 WINS)

“Oil is a tube that’s like no bigger than your finger and it can cost about $50,” Yanez said.

Students are hoping art supply stores and arts patrons will offer up their help.

Investigators said the building, which was built in 1887, was unoccupied at the time. It houses administrative offices, classrooms and art supplies, which may have contributed to the fire.

“Imagine close to a hundred oil paintings, stuff like that. I imagine that goes up pretty quick,” said student Jordan Ringdahl. “Six months working on a painting and some of them are bigger than a car and just to think like they’re all gone.”

Dozens of students came out of their dorms early Friday morning to watch as the historic building burned.

“I woke up ’cause my roommates were screaming,” said student Song Nyoo.

Firefighters still don’t know what sparked the blaze, but said they’re investigating everything, including whether it may have been intentionally set.

“Just because usually all the classrooms are locked up there and that’s all the senior painting rooms,” said student Marina Burton.

Two firefighters and one civilian suffered minor injuries.

Following the fire, Pratt released a statement.

“The Institute has set up an email for students and faculty who have lost property in the fire to make insurance claims and to answer any questions or concerns. The Institute has had an outpouring of support from its affiliates and members of the community offering furniture, equipment, supplies, and other resources to the departments affected by the fire,” the statement said. “We are confident that everything that can be replaced will be in a timely manner and that students will be fully compensated for the loss of irreplaceable work.”

Friday and Saturday classes have been cancelled in the building and the adjoining South Hall.

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