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Father Rescues Two Children, a Dog, and a Bearded Dragon Out of Burning Home in Watervliet

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April 23, 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.

WATERVLIET, NY - On April 23rd at 4:39 P.M., the Watervliet, Cohoes, Green Island, and Watervliet Arsenal Fire Departments were dispatched to the area of 25th Street and Fourth Avenue for a reported structure fire with entrapment. Multiple callers reported the house to be well involved.

As the first engine pulled out of the fire station in the City of Watervliet, the officer notified the dispatcher that they had a heavy black column of smoke visible from the other side of the city. The dispatcher notified units that they were taking additional calls stating that there was possibly a mother and children trapped inside the home.

As fire units were racing across the city, a father and two children who were trapped inside the building managed to escape out of the front window after the father kicked it out and dropped the kids out as heavy fire blew through the home. A nearby neighbor helped get the children away from the heavily involved house as the father ran back in to see if his son went back inside to get their dog, cat and bearded dragon out. After the father confirmed his son was not inside, he was able to get the dog and bearded dragon out of the house.

As the first arriving engine pulled up on to 25th Street, the officer immediately transmitted the second-alarm and the Signal 30, bringing the city of Troy’s fire department to the scene with Engine 6, the rescue squad, and a medic rig for the possible victims inside of the house. The first due officer had a single-story house with heavy fire showing on the 'Bravo' side of the building with additional fire hazards on the 'Delta' side for a connecting structure.

As firefighters began deploying a one-and-three-quarter inch hand line to the front door of the building, the father made his way outside with the family's dog and gecko. Firefighters stopped him from going back into the building and requested a medic rig to the scene for three patients.

The pump operator connected to the fire hydrant in front of the house, and the firefighters at the front door immediately masked up, went on air and yelled to the pump operator to charge the line. As the hand line quickly began to fill with water, firefighters made their way up the stairs as heavy fire was blowing out the windows and molten aluminum siding was dripping down onto the sidewalk below and the staircase where firefighters were making a push inside of the home.

As crews made their way inside the building they were met with heavy fire and thick smoke banked down throughout the house. Firefighters continued to make an aggressive push forward inside the structure, quickly driving back the heavy fire condition. Multiple mutual aid fire departments began to arrive on scene and recalls for additional manpower were made by the dispatcher for off duty members to come in to staff the city of Watervliet, Cohoes and Green Island.

As firefighters were working inside the structure to knock down the fire, the city of Troys Fire Department arrived on scene and began to throw ladders to the roof of the building to vent the structure. Firefighters inside the building conducted a primary search and all of the occupants were accounted for. Colonie EMS and Troy Fire Department Medic 4 quickly arrived on scene to provide mutual aid to the city of Watervliet and began to assess the two children and the father.

Firefighters began to cut the roof with a vent saw and ran into several problems as they had multiple roofs on the structure. Crews began using an axe to attempt to break through the multiple layers of roof. As firefighters were working, crews inside of the structure had a large bulk of the fire completely knocked down. Firefighters deployed another hand line to the 'Delta' side of the structure and began to cool down the adjacent building. Firefighters also deployed a one-and-three-quarter inch hand line inside of that structure just in case they had extension into the building.

As firefighters continued to work inside of the structure conducting extensive overhaul of the severely damaged home, Colonie EMS transported the two young children to Albany Medical Center's pediatric unit to be evaluated while Troy Fire's Medic 4 transported the father to Albany Medical Center in serious condition after he heroically was able to get both of his young children out of the residence along with the family's dog and bearded dragon. Unfortunately, the cat did not survive.

Firefighters remained on scene for an extended period of time conducting extensive overhaul of the home. Command requested New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control fire investigators to the scene to assist in the investigation. No firefighters were injured battling the fire, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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