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Heavy Smoke Fills the Morning Skies of Cohoes as Firefighters Battle a Commercial Fire

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

On June 1, 2024, at 7:46 a.m., a person stopped by the Cohoes Fire Department and notified them that the convenience store on Remsen Street and Howard Street was on fire. The officer in charge of the station requested the box for a possible structure fire to be transmitted. The box alarm brought the City of Watervliet’s Fire Department, Watervliet Arsenal Fire Department, and Green Island Fire Department to the scene. Firefighters geared up and made their way down to Remsen Street where on arrival the first due piece of apparatus notified the dispatcher that they had a heavy smoke condition showing from the structure and transmitted the signal thirty for a working structure fire. Command requested a full recall of firefighters from all cities responding to the scene.

The dispatcher confirmed the address at 203 Remsen Street. Firefighters immediately deployed an inch and three-quarter hand line off of the rig and made their way to from of the store and opened the front door and discovered they had a working kitchen fire on the first floor and made their way inside. As firefighters were hitting the hydrant, heavy amounts of smoke was pushing from the second floor of the structure. Command notified the dispatcher that they only had heavy fire in the main fire building for now. Firefighters deployed a secondary hand line up the stairs to the second floor where they had an extremely heavy smoke condition and as firefighters were doing so a portion of the stairs burned out from underneath them, but they continue to push forward up the stairs into the apartment and as they were making a aggressive push heavy fire blew out the front of the building and the delta side of the structure. Firefighters under a heavy fire condition conducted a fast search of the second floor for anyone still inside of the building. 

As firefighters attempted to knock down the fire, conditions continued to worsen as they could not get the fire under control in the first-floor convenience store and had heavy fire traveling throughout the structure. Firefighters inside the building requested someone to vent the roof to try to get rid of the superheated gases and heavy smoke condition that was banking down on the second floor.

Firefighters on the exterior portion of the structure secured the utilities and went back to work attempting to make an aggressive interior attack to bring the incident under control. As they were doing so, another firefighter notified command that they had heavy fire blowing through the roof on the parking lot side of the exposure building. Firefighters on the first floor of the structure notified command that they had heavy fire now running the entire ceiling length of the first floor and were attempting to knock it down. They then deployed an additional hand line into the structure and began to go to work on the first floor. Firefighters in the rear the structure were able to get the kitchen fire knocked down, but that fire had rapidly spread into the void spaces above and from the exterior portion of the structure there was heavy smoke pushing from the rear porch area.

Firefighters on the second-floor notified command that conditions were getting worse, and they had heavy fire traveling throughout the entire cockloft and heavy fire out the delta side of the building. Command requested an evacuation tone and notified all units on scene that they were going to a defensive operation. Firefighters quickly gathered outside of the structure and grabbed a bottle of water and notified command that they were all accounted for. 

Command conducted a full walk around of the scene and notified the dispatcher that they are going to be going into master Stream operations with the truck companies and they still had heavy fire throughout the structure and heavy smoke pushing from the roof. The thick black column of smoke could be seen for miles in the clear morning sky. Command also notified all units on scene that the structures around the building were evacuated.

Both of the city of Cohoes’s ladder trucks and the Watervliet Arsenal‘s ladder truck opened up their master streams on scene along with multiple blitz fires went into full operation. As tens of thousands of gallons of water were being sent into the building at one time the heavy fire condition quickly began to darken down. Firefighters only had a heavy smoke condition in the rear of this structure as there was numerous void spaces from construction that went on inside of the building over the years. For them to gain access to these areas where the heavy fire was still hiding, they would have to gain access to the ceiling and porch area. 

About one hour into the master stream operations, firefighters made their way back on to the roof of the structure of the adjacent building and began to utilize a few tools to gain access to an area where the heavy fire condition was still remaining. As they were doing so, the second floor of the structure and a large portion of the roof gave away inside of the structure and thousands of gallons of water burst through the front door of the structure carrying out of the building cans of soda, candy, energy drinks, and Natty Lite.

Firefighters continued to conduct master stream operations for an extended period of time and command made the decision to bring in a demolition team as the building was unstable and not safe to remain standing. Firefighters remained on scene for over five hours before going back into service. 

The cause of the fire has not been publicly released. No injuries were reported, and the building was demolished later in the afternoon.

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