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Wind-Driven Hoosick Falls Country Club Fire Ruled Accidental

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December 24, 2022 | NEW YORK JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

HOOSICK FALLS, NY - On December 24, 2022 at 12:00 A.M., the Rensselaer County Emergency Communications Center began receiving multiple calls for 73 Richmond Avenue, the Hoosick Falls Country Club, for a reported structure fire. The Hoosick Falls FD, Hoosick FD, Johnsonville FD for the FAST, and Town of Hoosick Ambulance were dispatched to the scene.

The village of Hoosick Falls Police Department quickly arrived on scene and notified the dispatcher that they had a working structure fire with a heavy fire condition throughout. Town of Hoosick Car 4 notified the dispatcher that he had a working structure fire. North Hoosick Fire Department's chief called en route to the scene and a second-alarm was transmitted. The Hoosick Falls FD, West Hoosick FD, North Hoosick FD, Pittstown FD, Cambridge FD, Town of Bennington FD, Petersburgh FD and Buskirk FD were dispatched to the scene.

The first arriving engine on scene immediately laid in their supply line from Richmond Avenue, and as the fire apparatus began to climb the hill, they began to lose traction due to the heavy snow conditions on the roadway. The apparatus attempted to make the hill multiple times, but could not get up. Firefighters dismounted from the engine and began to deploy a long lay of one-and-three-quarter inch hand lines to the building over 300-feet away. Winds gusting over 50 mph, -4° temperatures, and snow drifting across the golf course made it extremely difficult for firefighters to get to the top of the hill.

Firefighters reached the top of the hill and found power lines that had burned off the building and landed onto the ground along with a heavy wind-driven fire condition throughout the structure. The fire could be seen from up to two miles away as additional apparatus approached the scene. North Hoosick's fire apparatus came in from a different direction, cutting across the lawn of the golf course, and took a position on top of the hill. Firefighters deployed multiple hand lines from the rig and began to attempt to knock down the fully involved building.

Firefighters at the rear portion of the structure were conducting exterior operations, attempting to knock down the heavy fire condition in the other parts of the building. As they sprayed water into the structure, the mist from the hose streams began landing on them and the water quickly began to freeze to their turnout gear, making it difficult for them to move around.

Additional firefighters began arriving on scene to assist with knocking down the heavy fire condition. As firefighters worked, the heavy winds would cause areas that were already knocked down to reignite. Driving winds were estimated around 65 mph, and temperatures hovered around -8°F, causing any water on scene to turn to ice. Firefighters began bringing the fire under control in about 45 minutes and heavy white smoke pushed from the building covering the fire grounds. Rensselaer County Fire Investigators arrived on scene and began walking around the building looking for the cause of the fire.

Firefighters continued to conduct suppression efforts until the early hours of the morning. After crews got back to their stations, they had to let the hose they used unfreeze. No firefighters were injured, and the building was a total loss.

The Hoosick Falls Police Department assisted in the fire investigation with the Rensselaer County Fire Investigation team and determined the cause of the fire to be accidental. Fire investigators and police believe that a portable propane forced air heater that was in use due to the cold temperatures accidentally ignited combustible materials. Fire investigators and police also believed that the propane fuel along with high winds helped the fire travel throughout the building at a faster rate.

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