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Four Off Duty Colonie Firefighters Alert Family to Fire After Explosion in Watervliet

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July 31, 2022 | 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 - During the early morning hours of July 31st, a group of off-duty Colonie firefighters were at a local bar celebrating a friend that came home when a massive explosion behind the establishment caught their attention. When the group of firefighters ran out of the bar, they saw a massive glow and hot embers flying through the air behind the bar.

Without hesitation, the firefighters ran toward where the explosion had occurred and as they rounded the corner, they saw a structure heavily involved with fire blowing 70-feet into the air.

The firefighters ran towards the house and discovered a well involved shed fire that was burning about 10-feet from the home. After noticing that the siding on the home was starting to melt, the group quickly sprang into action and began banging on the door of the home to alert the homeowner. When that didn’t work, they forced entry to the home with a swift kick to the door and were immediately met with one of the occupants. One of the firefighters told the occupant that they needed to evacuate the house while another firefighter made entry and helped get all other occupants out, followed by a third firefighter who made entry and quickly swept the home to make sure that there was nobody remaining. The fourth firefighter and former dispatcher called the Albany County Emergency Communication Center and notified them that they had a working structure fire with heavy impingement on a home.

Within seconds, the Albany County Emergency Communication Center dispatched the City of Watervliet FD, along with Green Island FD and the Watervliet Arsenal FD to the intersection of 1st Avenue and 7th Street. The first arriving unit notified the dispatcher that they had a well involved shed fire with extension into the trees and began deploying a one-and-three-quarter inch hand line while additional firefighters arrived and began assisting in suppression efforts and overhaul. Within minutes the fire department had the entire incident under control.

No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation. The shed was a total loss and the home suffered heat damage.

Sidewinder Photography spoke with the group of off duty firefighters from the Town of Colonie after the incident and learned about their heroic actions. They are identified as Lieutenant Z. Palaszynski of the Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department and U.S Army Specialist 206th Military Police Company, Lieutenant W. Juliano of the Latham Fire Department and Colonie EMS, and Firefighter J. Moscatello, Jr. of the Latham Fire Department and former Albany County Dispatcher. The fourth firefighter asked to not have his name posted.

One the residents from the home stated, “I just want to thank those off duty firefighters for their dedication and saving my family. My father never heard the explosion and without them this could have ended differently. I don't know who you are, but I'm enviably grateful for your selfless act. I'm hoping they find the arsonist who committed this terrible act.”

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