Arsonist Suspected in Gap Distribution Center Fire

After one of Gap Inc.’s largest distribution centers was severely damaged by fire, the company was scrambling to fill online orders and get merchandise on store shelves in its Northeast territory.

The Aug. 29 blaze, which wiped out nearly one-third of a 1.3 million-square-foot facility in Fishkill, N.Y., is believed to have been caused by an arsonist, said the New York State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF National Response Team said it determined that “the fire was incendiary in nature,” meaning the fire was intentionally set.

The two agencies, which continue with their investigation, released the location back to Gap Inc. on Sept. 5 after a preliminary investigation.

The Fishkill Distribution Center, opened in 2000 and located 60 miles north of Manhattan, is a large campus holding two buildings: the smaller 1.3-million-square-foot structure that was damaged by the fire and a larger 1.9 million-square-foot warehouse.

Approximately 1,200 full-time and seasonal employees work at the two facilities, located in the town of 23,600 people. When the six-alarm fire occurred at 11 p.m., more than 100 workers were in the distribution center and able to escape unharmed.

While the investigation was going on, neither distribution center was able to process orders or deliver merchandise. The larger facility services the Old Navy stores run by Gap, and the smaller building primarily fulfills online orders in the Northeast region for Gap and Banana Republic, the other two nameplates under the Gap Inc. umbrella.

Gap spokesperson Debbie Felix said the company was using its other distribution centers, primarily in Ohio and Tennessee, to get online orders out to customers. “This distribution center [in Fishkill] is one of our regional distribution centers and part of our larger North American network,” she said. “We were able to leverage the contingency plans we have in place and deliver product from other distribution centers.”

In addition, the company has rerouted inbound freight intended for Fishkill to other facilities across the country. The company is also exploring the possibility of increasing capacity at its current distribution centers as well as at other temporary facilities in the Northeast region.

Gap has not released any information assessing the value of the merchandise lost or the full monetary impact of the fire.