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Pet Cat Rescued from Second-Alarm Watervliet Apartment Complex Fire

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May 14, 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 May 14th at 7:04 A.M., the City of Watervliet’s FD, along with the Green Island FD, Cohoes FD and Watervliet Arsenal FD, were dispatched to 2400 2nd Avenue at the Edward Joslin Apartments for a reported structure fire. The caller reported that the apartment upstairs was on fire. The police department arrived on scene and had a heavy smoke condition showing from the structure.

The first due engine from the City of Watervliet arrived on scene, transmitted the Signal 30 and requested the first and second platoon to be recalled. With heavy smoke showing from the structure and the building being a multi-occupancy large apartment complex, command immediately transmitted the second-alarm, bringing the city of Troy’s FD to the scene with Engines 6 and 4, Truck 2, and two battalion chiefs.

As firefighters deployed a one-and-three-quarter-inch hand line to the second floor, they were met with thick heavy brown smoke and extreme high levels of heat at the mid-level of the staircase. As firefighters attempted to make a push into the apartment, conditions kept getting worse and visibility was at zero. Firefighters made entry to the first floor apartment and began searching to make sure that everyone was out of the building. As crews deployed another set of hand lines to the side of the building, firefighters made entry to another apartment to make sure that everyone was out. Firefighters made their way to the second floor of the adjacent apartment where they encountered another heavy smoke condition.

Firefighters from the City of Troy’s Truck 2 arrived on scene, set up on the side of the building and began tossing ladders to the roof. Firefighters also began tossing ladders to the second story windows to set up just in case firefighters inside the building needed to make an emergency exit and begin to vent the windows. As firefighters made progress on the second floor, conditions inside of the structure continued to rapidly deteriorate.

Thick violent turbulent black smoke began to chug from the windows of the second floor and on the 'Delta' side of the structure where the upstairs apartment was sealed. Smoke began pushing from the windowsills around the window that was still intact and a significant amount of heat began melting the siding and parts of the roof vent area above the window, as well as a surveillance camera. As firefighters vented the roof a significant amount of smoke began to pour from the vent holes. Firefighters reached down with a New York hook and broke a lock off a vent on the front of the building. With conditions deteriorating, command made the decision to pull all firefighters from the building and ordered the evacuation tones.

As crews made their way outside, a firefighter conducted horizontal ventilation of the apartment window with the heavy smoke pushing from it and a firefighter from the Troy FD took over the pump panel on the truck company and connected to a water supply. Firefighters that were working on the second floor of the structure notified command that they had some type of plywood or boards on the ceiling and they could not gain access to the heavy fire condition. The pump operator of the truck company allowed for water to flow into the pipe connected to the bucket, and as soon as the window was clear and the apartment was clear, heavy fire rolled across the ceiling and the truck company opened up and rust filled water from the hydrant blasted into the second-floor area.

Firefighters quickly started to bring the incident under control as the truck company pumped 2000-gallons-per-minute into the second floor of the building. As soon as the heavy fire condition was knocked down firefighters were able to make their way up to the second floor with another hand line and bring the incident completely under control.

Firefighters continued to hit hot spots for an extended period of time. After learning there was a pet still inside of the building, without hesitation firefighters from the Watervliet FD and the Cohoes FD made their way inside to search for the family's pet. Firefighters were able to safely locate the cat and bring it out to their grateful owner, who was overwhelmed with joy to have their cat "Tigger" back, which only appeared to be wet from the fire.

Firefighters remained on scene for an extended period of time. Watervliet Housing Authority and the Red Cross were contacted for all of the individuals affected by the fire. The police department is investigating the cause of the fire, and no injuries were reported. The Watervliet FD and their mutual aid companies went back into service later that afternoon.

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