Crews face multiple obstacles battling Amsterdam fire

AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Fire crews had to fight through less than ideal conditions as they battled a fire in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Fire Chief Mike Whitty said multiple crews responded to a four-alarm fire at 23 Dartmouth St. late Tuesday afternoon.

“First arriving companies reported a huge volume of smoke shooting from all four sides of the house,” he said. “They determined it to be a basement fire.”

dartmouth st fire amsterdam

Firefighters entered the house through a cellar door in the backyard. Whitty said they were met by a backdraft, or “smoke explosion,” as they brought down waterlines.

“They backed out, shut the line down, backed back out and described what sounds like a couple of smoke explosions,” Whitty said. “And at that point they switched to a defensive operation.”

Whitty said the crew members that experienced the smoke explosion were treated and remained on scene. The biggest concern moving forward was the fuel oil tank in the basement.

“It appears to be that some of that oil may have been burning at first,” Whitty explained. “The tank was filled two days ago, so we are probably looking at 250 gallons of oil in the cellar.”

Other complications included needing to dig out the hydrant in front of the home, the fire truck’s onboard foam system malfunctioning, and holes in the first floor of the house prevented crew members from entering the home.

dartmouth st hydrant amsterdam

While each obstacle was a big issue, the chief said there was one prevailing concern for his team.

“Our concern is the fire load in the basement, which is from what I’m hearing going to be considerable, and the way the basement has been divided and portioned off there’s areas we just can’t get at from the windows,” Whitty said.

Whitty said the home is a total loss. The resident, 91-year-old Harry Gibbs, was not believed to be inside the home at the time of the fire.

Whitty said it was too early to tell if the fire was suspicious, and crews will likely sit on the home overnight and continue investigating Wednesday morning.

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