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Multiple Rescues Made at Three-Alarm Apartment Complex Fire on the Fourth of July

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July 04, 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.

WEST CRESENT, NY - On July 4th at 1:04 P.M., while multiple departments were at the Town of Clifton Parks Fourth of July celebration parade, the West Crescent FD along with mutual aid from Halfmoon-Waterford FD, Visher Ferry FD and Clifton Park EMS, was dispatched to 207 Mohawk Terrace for a reported structure fire.

The Saratoga County Emergency Communication Center began receiving multiple calls reporting that the building was on fire and that people were trapped. Saratoga County Car One, who lived in a nearby building, immediately transmitted the second-alarm as he had heavy smoke pushing from the front of the building and multiple people trapped on the balconies. Saratoga County Car One made his way around the back of the building where he discovered a section that was fully involved, as well as heavy fire blowing through the roof and spreading. Boght Car 12 called en route to the scene and notified the county dispatcher that he had a column a smoke showing from his location in Colonie.

A sheriff's deputy arrived on scene and began rescuing one individual from the back of the building that was trapped on his porch, using a ladder he commandeered. Boght Car 12, Engine-Rescue 322 and Car 32 arrived on scene and began rescuing the rest of the individuals trapped on their porch. Thick, heavy black and brown smoke was pushing from the third-floor portion of the building and the roof. With only a few first responders on scene and all other apparatus tied up at the parade in heavy pedestrian traffic, command transmitted the third-alarm.

Firefighters that were not involved with the rescues made entry to the building and began forcing doors to check apartments, as the heavy fire condition in the rear of the building was rapidly spreading and they knew they didn’t have much time as the building did not have sprinklers.

An additional engine company arrived on scene behind the first due engine and connected to a nearby hydrant, establishing a water supply. Firefighters inside the building made their way from the second floor to the third floor where they encountered thick heavy black smoke and extreme heat that pushed them to the floor. As crews pushed to check the apartments nearby, the extreme heat and fire condition on the fire floor caused one of the firefighter's tools to melt in his hands. The heavy heat caused firefighters to push to the floor and crawl back to the stairwell. As exhausted firefighters made their way out of the building, Boght Car 12 grabbed his radio and requested the Village of Colonie Fire Co. to the scene with their FAST team, as well as the Latham FD with their truck company and FAST team members.

Crews from additional engine and rescue companies arrived on scene and began deploying hand lines to the rear of the structure to start an aggressive exterior attack while other firefighters connected to nearby fire hydrants along the main roadway. Jonesville FD, Round Lake FD, Mechanicville FD, West Crescent FD, Boght FD, Latham FD, Clifton Park FD, Northside FD, Waterford FD, Hillcrest FD, Visher Ferry FD, Halfmoon-Waterford FD and Clifton Park EMS were dispatched to the scene on the third-alarm.

As firefighters in the front of the building continued to make multiple rescues from balconies, other firefighters made entry to the building with a hand line and attempted to make a push on to the third floor, but were quickly pushed back down the stairs by the heavy fire condition. During another attempt to make a push onto the third floor, the roof caved in.

Crews in the rear of the structure began utilizing foam, but the foam quickly burned off due to the high temperatures of the fire conditions. Firefighters on the truck companies below turned on their master streams and began to knock down some of the heavy fire conditions. Additional firefighters arrived on scene and made their way inside the structure to continue conducting a primary search when they found an individual in the basement apartment who was not aware of the fire. Crews pounded the back of the building with multiple hand lines, knocking down a significant portion of the fire, while firefighters inside the building continued to clear all occupants.

Multiple individuals suffered from smoke inhalation and needed to be evaluated by EMS on scene. Firefighters climbed the ladder to the third floor in the rear of the building to break out windows, as fire was traveling along the roofline and the common cockloft area. Once all occupants were accounted for, command switched to a full defensive operation.

With the heavy fire load burning through the second floor, a significant portion of the center of the building had collapsed into the first floor of the structure. After an extended period of time of master stream operations, command switched to an interior operation to begin hitting hotspots inside the building. About three hours into the fire, crews began to get it under control. Command requested Saratoga County Fire Investigators to the scene along with the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control for their K-9 units.

After about five hours into the fire, crews had it completely under control and began conducting extensive overhaul of the scene. Firefighters remained on scene until the late hours of the evening. Multiple injuries were reported. No firefighters were transported to the hospital. Several cats were also reunited with their owners. The fire is currently being investigated by Saratoga County Fire Investigators.

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