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Second Alarm Laundry Mat Fire Under Investigation in Troy

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April 03, 2023 | 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.

TROY, NY - On April 3rd at 8:54 P.M., the Rensselaer County Emergency Communication Center was flooded with 911 calls for a structure fire at 275 5th Avenue at the Checkerboard Laundry Mat. Engines 1, 4 and 2, along with Trucks 1 and 2, the rescue squad, Medic 4 and the battalion chief responded to the scene.

As fire units were responding, the police department quickly arrived on scene and had a heavy fire condition in the rear of the building and the dispatcher immediately notified the battalion chief. Engine 1 and Truck 1 arrived on scene and declared a Signal 30 for a working structure fire with heavy fire in the rear of the building and heavy smoke pushing from the front of the building and multiple exposure issues. The battalion chief declared the second-alarm, bringing the Watervliet Arsenal Fire Department, City of Cohoes Fire Department and Engines 3 and 6 to the scene.

With heavy fire in the rear of the structure and multiple exposures, firefighters from the truck company deployed a two-and-a-half inch hand line to the alleyway to start to protect the nearby houses, as the building was well involved. Firefighters connected to the nearby hydrant to establish a water supply. Truck 1 set up in the front of the building and Engine 1 quickly began to connect a supply line to the truck company.

The Watervliet Arsenal Fire Department came down the alleyway and set up their truck company for master stream operations. Firefighters deployed a one-and-three-quarter inch hand line inside the building and began to make an aggressive interior attack. As firefighters were pushing inside the laundromat, thick black smoke was banked down to the floor with heavy heat above the firefighters.

Command noticed that they had heavy fire in the attic above the firefighters working inside and immediately requested the evacuation tones to be transmitted. Just as the dispatcher was transmitting the evacuation tones, the primary power lines in the alleyway burned off the building, landing on the ground, sending a bright white flash of sparks everywhere. Command requested national grid to be expedited to the scene. Firefighters deployed a garden lay off the rear of the engine and deployed it to the side of the building, where they had another portion of the structure beginning to show signs of heavy smoke and fire. Command on scene had one house nearby evacuated.

Mutual aid companies began arriving on scene and assisted firefighters in protecting exposure buildings. As firefighters on the south side of the building attempted to make progress heavy fire blew through the roof of the apartment attached to the laundry mat. Firefighters in the rear of the building continued to knock down the heavy fire condition. With all of the large diameter hose across the roadway supplying the scene, a significant amount of water and debris began to build up in the streets. The City of Troy’s Water Department arrived on scene and began to use shovels to clear the clog drains and drain the water from the streets. As firefighters were working in the front of the building, a large portion of the roof on the 'Delta' and 'Charlie' side collapsed inside of the building.

Firefighters continued to utilize multiple master streams to knock down the heavy fire condition inside of the building. At one point for an extended period of time there were three master stream operations being ran from the three truck companies on scene. Code enforcement was requested to the scene as the building had suffered severe structural damage during the fire. About two hours into the large operation, crews began to shut down the hand lines and master streams. The operations commander on scene along with a crew of firefighters began to evaluate the entire structure. During this time firefighters were also able to check on one of the exposure buildings that suffered fire damage. It was later determined that there was no extension inside of that building.

Command requested additional personnel to be recalled to staff the entire city, and New York State Homeland Security Office of Fire Prevention and Control to the scene with their fire investigators and detectives from the Troy Police Department to help investigate the cause of the fire. Fire investigators remained on scene until 4:30 P.M. the next day investigating the fire. At this time there has been no determination of the cause of the fire released to the public. One firefighter was injured and transported to the hospital with a concussion after getting hit with a master stream. The firefighter was hospitalized for a short period of time before being released. The building had to be torn down the next day due to it not being structurally safe.

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