Cold temperatures add complications while battling Schenectady fire

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A big fire tore through a Schenectady apartment building Wednesday evening.

The fire happened just after 6 p.m. on the 1000-block of Park Avenue. It tore through the third floor of the building.

All eight people living inside got out safely, but firefighters said cold temperatures made it difficult to put out. It took crews over two hours to stabilize.

Peter Dellarata was driving on Wendell Avenue when he noticed the heavy smoke from far away

“We saw the police blocked off a lot of the streets, and we can see through the parking lot of the church, that there was quite a significant amount of damage from the flames coming through the roof of the house,” he said.

With temperatures below 20 degrees, water from the hoses splashed onto nearby pavement, freezing the roads, and leaving large icicles hanging off the power lines.

“The wind was just enough it was affecting our streams with our aerial towers,” Assistant Fire Chief Michael Gillespie said. “We couldn’t get as close to the building as we would like.”

Power had to be temporarily cut to nearby homes so there wouldn’t be a risk of electrocution.

“Right now, I can tell you the roof is off the building,” Gillespie said. “There’s heavy water damage on the second floor, and the cellar is full of water at this point.”

Once the investigation is over, Gillespie said it will be decided whether the apartment will be demolished or handed back to the property owner. For now, crews will remain on scene to put out minor hot spots.

“They’re tired; they’re picking stuff up,” Gillespie said. “They kind of dropped their guard. We’re always concerned about slipping and falling. Some of our worst injuries occur at this time.

Officials said there’s no reason to believe the fire is suspicious.

The Department of Public Works will salt the roads near the scene.

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