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Fire Caused by Lightning Strike Destroys Mechanicville Auto Shop

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July 09, 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.

MECHANICVILLE, NY - On July 9th at 3:22 P.M., the Mechanicville Fire Department was dispatched to the CVS parking lot for live power lines down on a large propane tank at Haney’s Auto Shop. The dispatcher notified the chiefs en route to the scene that they were taking multiple calls on the incident.

As the chiefs were arriving on scene, the propane tank had caught fire at Haney’s Auto Shop due to the high-voltage power lines that burned a hole in the side of the tank, and heavy fire was impinging on the building from the propane tank. Command immediately requested the dispatcher to upgrade this to a working structure fire and requested the power company to expedite to the scene.

The first arriving engine on scene quickly set up across the street in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot and with torrential rains pouring down on scene and heavy lightning, command made the decision to have firefighters stage in the parking lot across the street as it was extremely dangerous for firefighters to begin to fight the fire with high-voltage power lines down on top of the propane tank and the building.

As firefighters were responding to the scene, the nearby bridge began to become heavily flooded. The engine that came in through that area connected to the nearby hydrant and laid in. Firefighters walked through knee-high water and connected to the nearby hydrant establishing a water supply. Firefighters began to deploy multiple hand lines to the front of the building and set up as they were waiting for the power company to arrive on scene to shut down the powerline. As firefighters were waiting, the high-voltage power line was arcing and bouncing around on the ground and hit a nearby guardrail, sparking the fence to catch fire.

Firefighters began to walk around the building and notified command that they had heavy smoke pushing from the structure and that there was a heavy fire condition inside of the building. Command requested the second-alarm, bringing the Round Lake FD, Hill Crest FD, Melrose FD, Arvin Hart FD, Halfmoon-Waterford FD and Waterford FD to the scene. Command had firefighters pull a two-and-a-half-inch line and set up a blitz fire and began to cool the propane tanks down. As the mist from the master stream hit the propane tank, the water hit the downed power line and caused a massive white flash, finally sending enough surge through the power line to kill the power. As heavy fire began to push through the back and front of the building, firefighters utilized a hand line from an adjacent parking lot and began to knock down the heavy fire condition.

With torrential rains still pouring down on scene, the roadway quickly began to turn into a river. The water that was already piling up where the apparatus set up near the hydrant was up over the back bumper of the fire engine. Command had firefighters utilize a hand line from a safe distance away and began to knock down some of the heavy fire. The power company arrived on scene and quickly pulled up in front of the building and went to work disconnecting the power. As soon as the power was disconnected, firefighters immediately began to make their way up to the building and made an aggressive attack on the heavy fire condition inside of the structure, quickly bringing the incident under control. As heavy rain and lightning continued to come down around them, multiple calls continued to come in for downed power lines, flooded roadways, and other storm related incidents.

Firefighters remained on scene for an extended period of time hitting hot spots inside of the building and conducting extensive overhaul. The garage was severely damaged by the fire. The determination of the cause of the fire was from a lightning strike. No injuries were reported.

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