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Two Alarms Called for Gym Fire in Boght Hills Elementary School in Colonie

By JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent | April 01, 2021 | NEW YORK

Story No. 040821104

COLONIE, NY - On April 1st at 6:37 A.M., the Boght Fire Company, with the Verdoy and Latham Fire Departments, and Colonie Emergency Medical Services, were dispatched for a reported smoke condition inside of Boght Hills Elementary School. The dispatcher notified all responding fire units that a police officer just arrived on scene and had heavy smoke showing from the school.

Verdoy Safety Car 11 arrived on scene and immediately transmitted the re-dispatch for a working structure fire. With heavy, thick smoke pushing from the building, Verdoy Safety 11 requested the transmission of the second-alarm.

Safety 11, along with the school's maintenance staff who were also volunteer firefighters, were attempting to locate the seat of the fire and discovered a well involved fire in the gym area. The second-alarm brought in the Colonie Village Fire Co. for their FAST team, Shaker Road FD, Maplewood FD, West Crescent FD, Halfmoon FD, Northside FD for a standby, Fuller Road FD, West Albany FD, and Colonie Fire Services to the scene.

Engines 400 and 419 arrived on scene and immediately deployed multiple hand lines into the building. As firefighters made their way into the school, they encountered a heavy smoke condition in the hallways. As they made entry into the gym they discovered a well involved stage fire, with heavy fire licking the ceiling. With heavy smoke banking down to the floor and heavy heat pushing firefighters down to the floor, crews opened up the hand line and began to knock down the heavy fire condition.

The heavy fire was knocked down within 10 minutes of arrival, but firefighters still had a large amount of heat and smoke inside the gym. With heavy smoke still pushing from the school and the fear of extension into another part of the building, command requested three additional truck companies to the scene.

Truck 11 deployed their stick to the front of the building and firefighters began to conduct vertical ventilation. West Crescent's ladder truck quickly arrived on scene and firefighters took up a position on the 'Alpha'/'Delta' side of the structure and immediately deployed to the roof. Firefighters from the West Crescent FD ladder truck used a rotary saw and cut a large vent cap off of one of the HVAC units, allowing a large amount of smoke to exit.

As firefighters inside the building confirmed they had a large portion of the fire knocked down they called for horizontal ventilation of the gym windows. Firefighters used a rotary saw to break the windows on the top of the gym due to the windows being hurricane proof. The rotary quickly cut through each window, allowing the large amount of trapped smoke and steam to exit the gym.

Firefighters from the mutual aid companies arrived on scene and deployed three additional hand lines into the building to assist with overhauling the large fire area. Crews began to conduct overhaul of the stage area and roof area inside of the gym that had been heavily involved. Firefighters on the roof cut a vent hole in the roof of the gym to allow all of the remaining super heated and toxic gases to escape from the building. Firefighters began to conduct heavy overhaul inside of the structure and command was able to successfully place the fire under control in less than 45 minutes.

Firefighters successfully conducted a primary and a secondary search of the structure and made sure no one was left inside of the building. They remained on scene for a large portion of the morning into the early afternoon hours. Over 60 firefighters responded to the incident.

Fire investigators arrived on scene and began to look into what caused the fire. School officials notified all of the parents that had children attending the school that there was a fire and school had been canceled.

After conducting overhaul in the fire area for quite sometime, firefighters believed they extinguished all of the remaining hotspots, but unfortunately they were called back in the late evening hours as they had a small fire under the stage that was hidden.

Crews conducted heavy overhaul again of the fire area, making sure there were no remaining hot spots. No firefighters were injured battling the fire, and the fire is under investigation at this time.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.