Massive fire rips through old Howard Johnson motel, building demolished

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Southern Boulevard reopened to traffic Thursday night after a fire tore through the old Howard Johnson motel.

Dozens of firefighters worked tirelessly to battle the massive fire. Flames ripped through the old Howard Johnson motel around 2 p.m.

The fire started on the second floor and spread throughout the building. Several ladder trucks doused the old Albany motel from above.

“It’s a pretty big piece of property,” Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel said. “We have just as many crews on this side as we do on the other side.”

Paul DiBiase remembered coming to the Howard Johnson’s restaurant as a child.

“Little kid after church with my parents, and I’m going back 40, 45 years,” he recalled. “That’s where we came after church every Sunday for breakfast.”

Thursday, pieces of the old motel crumbled apart making it too dangerous for crews to go inside.

The fire raised many questions since it had been a vacant eyesore for years.

“Funny, you see a vacant building go up in flames, you wonder,” DiBiase said. “They’ve been working on it though, boarding it up. So something’s been going on over there.”

The owner planned to turn the property into a shopping center by summer 2018, but the demolition now beginning much earlier.

It was an excellent job by firefighters who worked nonstop for nearly four hours. It was the second time fire ravaged through the building in the last 10 years.

No official cause for the fire has been given, yet.

State fire investigators remained on the scene late Thursday. No injuries were reported.

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