25 people displaced by Schenectady fire

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – Over 20 people were displaced after two homes caught fire early Wednesday morning.

Nandanie Varma owned the homes on Eagle Street that caught fire just before 1 a.m. Wednesday. All occupants escaped the residence safely, but Varma said she will never forget the image she woke up to.

“It’s not going to be the same,” she said. “You know, and I can’t forget this day. It’s terrible.”

The fire displaced a total of 25 people, including 17 children.

“To come out and watch the fire blazing, it breaks my heart,” Varma continued. “Watching all the tenants crying for their home cause this is their home. They’ve been there forever. It just tore my heart apart.”

The American Red Cross has stepped in to help the families by providing food, clothing and shelter. Chief Operating Officer of the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York Thomas Lindberg said caring for a large group of people is challenging, but it could not be done without volunteers.

“That’s why we try to tell [volunteers] how much this means to these people,” he said. “We like to say that we help people on the worst day of their lives. You know, we try to get them the help and the support that they need when they don’t have anything else.”

Firefighters had trouble putting out the blaze because a fire hydrant didn’t work. Mayor Gary McCarthy could not be reached to find out why the hydrant didn’t work.

Despite the minor setback, Varma said firefighters did everything they could.

“They tried their best,” she said. “They worked really hard at it, but the fire just went out of control.”

The building where the fire started will be demolished by the city. The adjacent building received a lot of damage but is salvageable.

Varma said firefighters told her the blaze started in the basement, but the investigation into an exact cause is still ongoing.

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