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Interview With Staten Island President

Aired February 21, 2003 - 12:17   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to go back to that fuel storage fire we're also covering in Staten Island, New York. A huge fire, apparently now under control.
Our Jamie Colby is now standing by. She is on the scene -- Jamie, tell us what you're seeing and what you are hearing.

JAMIE COLBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It is two hours after that explosion and massive blaze began. We are now told it is contained, though I am seeing a huge plume of black smoke that reportedly can be seen as far as 90 miles away.

I just spoke with Staten Island borough president Jim Molinaro. He tells us and confirms that one person was taken from the facility, and (AUDIO GAP) North Hospital, where they have a renowned burn unit, and is being attended to.

We do not have any other information regarding the condition of that person, but as well, two people are missing that are known missing out of as many as 400 employees that may have worked at this storage facility. The blaze was attended to, a fourth alarm fire, by 39 units. The fire department, as many as 200 firefighters worked to bring it under control.

The folks here outside of the fire, about a mile away at the police staging area, who live here described a huge explosion that they heard, their houses rumbling. (AUDIO GAP) and they have not been evacuated.

We do smell a smell of petroleum in the air, but it is slight at this point. Firefighters telling me that the light winds are actually helping them in terms of having fought the blaze and continuing to keep it under control, and also EMS workers here in big numbers, Wolf, setting up a triage station here to attend to and transport any others that they're able to bring out of the plant.

What we are told as well is that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the scene, looking things over, and he will be briefing us around 12:30. Once again, the fire now contained. They're looking to see if there are any other survivors, and we'll continue to monitor the condition of anyone that is transported out of the facility -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie, was there a sense that the fire fighting equipment and all the firefighters quickly arrived on the scene to deal with this kind of oil storage explosion, if you will, whatever it was, the kind of fire equipment that's necessary specialized equipment you need for this?

COLBY: Well, Wolf, given the fact that the amount of oil that might have been at this facility transported both in and out, my first question was, is there not an on-site fire department especially equipped for this type of potential accident which is what Molinaro said is that truly it is an accident, and not an act of terrorism.

And yes, they do have a fire department on site. I'm sure that was helpful. We will be asking the mayor that as well, but the massive size of the explosion and blaze required all of these other fire departments to come in and assist, and they're just thankful now that they were able to get it contained -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie Colby, stand by. We're going to be getting back to you. Obviously, we're going to be standing by for the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, once he comes out too.

Guy Molinaro is the Staten Island borough president. He is joining us now on the phone. Mr. Molinaro, thanks very much.

What can you tell us? What's the latest information that you have?

GUY MOLINARO, PRESIDENT OF STATEN ISLAND: Hold on one second, please -- hello?

BLITZER: Yes, Mr. Molinaro, it's Wolf Blitzer in Washington from CNN. I'm wondering if you can update us on the latest information you have.

MOLINARO: The latest information we have, there was one injured who is Staten Island Hospital burn unit, and there is two missing. It seems to be under control, and the mayor is here, just arriving for a press conference, a live press conference, and other than that, we don't have any additional information.

BLITZER: Is it -- it is under control now. Any danger from the fumes, any danger from the smoke too?

MOLINARO: No, there's no danger. There is really no danger. The fumes are really cut back. I'm looking at it from the command center, which is about a mile away.

(OFF-MIKE) OK. I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on CNN -- finish this.

Yes, go ahead.

BLITZER: All right. I know you're in a rush. I know this is a horrible situation, but have you evacuated a lot of people from...

MOLINARO: We haven't -- no one's been evacuated to my knowledge. No one has been evacuated at all to my knowledge.

BLITZER: Because this is an industrial area without a lot of residential...

MOLINARO: Yes, but there's only three homes there, and no one's been evacuated to my knowledge. OK. All right.

BLITZER: I'll let you go, I know you've got a lot going on.

MOLINARO: OK. All right. All right. Thank you. Thank you.

BLITZER: Staten Island borough president, thanks for taking a few moments with us.


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