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Off Duty Latham Firefighters Remove Elderly Woman from House Fire

By JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent | August 03, 2021 | NEW YORK

Story No. 080621100

LATHAM, NY - On August 3rd at 7:40 P.M., two off duty Latham Firefighters, one of them being the Town of Colonie’s Fire Car 1, were on their way to dinner when they noticed a thick heavy black column of smoke while driving down Troy Schenectady Road.

The two firefighters turned onto Arnold Avenue where they discovered a working fire in the rear of a house with a homeowner attempting to extinguish a tractor fire under a metal awning. With the heavy fire condition traveling along the metal awning, the fire quickly began to spread to the attached garage and house.

The homeowner told off duty Latham FD LT. Billy Juliano that his 92-year-old mother was still in the house. Without hesitation, LT. Billy Juliano sprinted up the hill to the front of the house where thick black smoke began to pour from the roof of the garage. Richard Haack, Town of Colonie's Car One, ran back to his vehicle, grabbed his portable radio and notified the dispatcher that he had a working garage fire in the rear of 2 Arnold Ave., and it was rapidly spreading to the house.

LT. Billy Juliano made his way to the front door of the house, which was locked. With only one way to get inside, Juliano ran through the garage and into the house. Juliano shut the door behind him and yelled into the residence for the 92-year-old woman, who answered his call. Juliano immediately assisted the woman from her home as fire blew through the roof of the garage and began to spread to the front of the house. Juliano brought the 92-year-old elderly woman across the street away from the fire.

Richard Haack, Town of Colonie's Car One, ran back to the rear of the house to assist the other homeowner in removing several large gas cans, welding cylinders, and the homeowner's camper that was well involved. Haack ran up to the front of the house to check on the other homeowner as fire shot 30-feet into the air.

Tones dropped to the Latham, Menands, Schuyler Heights, Shaker Road, West Albany, Colonie Village, Boght, and Watervliet Arsenal Fire Department to respond to the scene. Car 27 notified all units that this was a Signal 30 working structure fire, and that everyone was now out of the house safely. With heavy fire pushing from the garage, the first arriving Engine 416 deployed multiple hand lines to the front of the garage and rear of the house and began to knock down the heavy fire. Truck 4, Engine 449, Rescue 6, and Engine 454 quickly arrived on scene and went to work conducting suppression efforts and ventilation.

Multiple Rapid Intervention Teams arrived on scene and set up around the house. Firefighters from Truck 4 made their way to the roof and checked for extension as they had smoke pushing from the eaves. Firefighters made their way into the house and began to check the living room for extension as the garage had been fully involved. Firefighters were not able to make entry to the garage due to solar panels that collapsed inside.

Crews continued to conduct extensive overhaul on scene but were able to quickly bring the fire under control in less than 20 minutes. Firefighters remained on scene for over two hours while investigators conducted an investigation into the incident. No firefighters were injured while battling the blaze and all of the residents in the house were able to make it out safely thanks to the two off duty Latham firefighters.

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