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Fire Destroys Multimillion-Dollar Commericial Fish Laboratory

September 22, 1985

SANDY HOOK, N.J. (AP) _ Fire swept through a multimillion-dollar commercial fisheries laboratory Saturday, destroying the facility and injuring 10 firefighters, officials said.

The blaze destroyed thousands of scientific books and journals, specimens and equipment in a 99-year-old building and annexes. The structures housed U.S. Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offices, and the lab for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

More than 275 firefighters from 15 companies brought the blaze under control about 6 a.m., said Town Fire Director Dennis Soyka. The fire was reported shortly after midnight.

Only one firefighter required hospitalization, for a cut tendon in his hand, officials said.

Stuart Ilk, the lab director, said damage would run into millions of dollars. He estimated that 33,000 volumes, including a collection of rare books used used by scientist worldwide, were destroyed along with a 32,000- gallon observatory tank.

Also destroyed were a school of blue fish in the main tank and other fish in eight additional 500- to 750-gallon tanks in the basement.

″The real loss, philosophically, is two-fold,″ Ilk said. ″The uniqueness of the tank and the library was a real loss.″

″And some of the work by our senior scientists who were not in tune to the computer age is lost,″ Ilk said. ″Their work was in notebooks, tape recordings; 10-year studies you just can’t replace.″

″We’ll just have to start over,″ he said.

The cause of the fire had not been determined, said Robert McIntosh, director of the Gateway National Recreation Area, where the structures were located.

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