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Town of Colonie Firefighter Collapses While Battling Second-Alarm on Sand Creek Road

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July 15, 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.

COLONIE, NY - On July 15th at 10:13 A.M., the West Albany FD, Fuller Road FD, Shaker Road FD, Menands FD, Colonie EMS, and the Colonie Village Fire Co. for the FAST, was dispatched to 95 Sand Creek Rd. for a reported structure fire. The caller reported smoke coming from the roof and basement of the house.

Car 17 from Colonie Village that was down the street for a family event arrived on scene within 30 seconds of the dispatch and notified the dispatcher that he had a two-story wood-frame structure with heavy smoke showing from the eaves. West Albany Car 66 notified the dispatcher to transmit the Signal 30 for a working structure fire.

The West Albany FD's full fleet of apparatus and firefighters arrived on scene within minutes of the dispatch along with Truck 9. Firefighters quickly deployed multiple hand lines to the rear of the structure where they had Bilco doors that went into the side of the home. Firefighters quickly made their way inside and conducted a primary search and had a heavy smoke condition throughout the structure. Command requested a secondary FAST team from the Stanford Heights FD to the scene along with the Latham FD, Verdoy FD, and Midway FD to the scene.

As firefighters made their way to the basement, they had a heavy smoke condition along with a significant amount of heat pushing down on them. Firefighters made their way further into the basement and quickly began to knock down the heavy fire condition in the middle of the basement. As firefighters were doing so, thick heavy brown smoke began to pour from the second-floor windows along with the vent from the roof of the structure.

Firefighters inside the structure notified command that they had hoarding conditions inside of the basement. Command notified the crews inside to use caution and not to push too deep into the building if the conditions were unfavorable. Command noticed the change of the smoke from the building and realized that the fire had traveled up the walls into the attic area and second-floor. Firefighters quickly began to ladder the building and make their way to the second-floor.

Firefighters on the outside of the structure on the 'Delta' side took out the windows which then allowed for the firefighters on the second-floor to attempt to locate the heavy fire condition above. As firefighters were pulling the ceilings on the second-floor conditions rapidly began to change. Firefighters on the first-floor reported they had heavy fire traveling the ceilings and command requested the evacuation tones to be given over the radio as firefighters working inside the building had heavy fire throughout and all of the fire apparatus on scene began to blast their airhorns to notify the firefighters in the building to evacuate the structure.

Command requested the dispatcher to transmit the second-alarm. As this was going on additional firefighters from the West Albany FD were running up the street in full turnout gear and air packs from their firehouse to the scene which was only a few houses down from the fire. The Menands FD with their truck company pulled up and backed into the driveway of the neighbor's house and quickly set up and fired up their saws. Within 30 seconds the truck company was set up and crews were making their way to the roof to vent the building. At the same time the Shaker Road FD's Truck 9 had made their way to the front roof area and began to vent the structure.

As crews were venting the building heavy brown smoke began to push from the attic area of the structure and out the back of the building. Firefighters from multiple departments quickly grabbed a two-and-a-half-inch hand line and made their way to the front door of the structure. Firefighters, not willing to give up on attempting to bring this incident under control, quickly stretched the hand line to the second-floor and requested the line to be charged. At the same time some of the firefighters that had been working inside of the structure that were exhausted began to go to rehab.

Firefighters on the second-floor began to make an aggressive interior attack on the second-floor with the heavy fire in the attic area. As firefighters were working on the second-floor additional firefighters in the rear of the structure deployed a hand line up to the second-floor via a ladder. Firefighters continued to make an aggressive interior attack, quickly knocking down the heavy fire condition that had been traveling the walls. The North Bethlehem FD was requested to the scene for their rehab unit to assist with exhausted firefighters on scene. Firefighters on the second-floor notified command that they had the fire knocked down and they were going to be conducting extensive overhaul.

Command notified the dispatcher that they were having crews re-enter the first-floor and begin to hit the fire in the ceiling area. With temperatures in the low 90's, firefighters were absolutely exhausted on scene and were drenched in sweat. Firefighters in the rear of the building continued to make progress on overhauling the second-floor.

As firefighters were working inside the first-floor, a firefighter collapsed inside of the building and over the radio command was notified and without hesitation over a dozen firefighters rushed the front of the building to pull the firefighter from the building. Firefighters quickly carried the downed firefighter out the front door of the building where EMS met the crews and quickly went to work, loading him onto a stretcher into an ambulance to Albany Medical Center.

While EMS worked to stabilize the firefighter that had collapsed, crews inside of the structure had additional worries as there were fireworks in the basement. Colonie EMS along with the Colonie PD escorted the injured firefighter to Albany Medical Center where they were evaluated for their injuries. Firefighters continued to conduct overhaul throughout the building for an extended period of time. Due to the extensive operations on scene, command and the Town of Colonies Emergency Services had all of the remaining fire departments in the Town of Colonie activated and moved to cover different stations along with man their own station as the fire scene had extensive operations still ongoing. Fire Investigators arrived on scene and began to conduct their investigation into the fire. No additional injuries occurred on scene. The firefighter that collapsed during operations was listed in stable condition at Albany Medical Center and was later released. Firefighters remained on scene until the late afternoon hours. Colonie fire investigators has not released the cause of the fire.

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