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100-Year-Old House in Columbia County Destroyed by Fire

By JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent | August 12, 2021 | NEW YORK

Story No. 083021108

COLUMBIA COUNTY, NY - On August 12th at 3:58 P.M., the Niverville Task Force and Claverack Fire Department for the FAST team were dispatched for a reported lightning strike at a residence located at 233 County Route 28B. The caller stated that there was smoke in the residence and that the alarms were going off.

The first arriving New York State Police unit on scene notified the dispatcher that they had a working structure fire at the address, and the residence was being evacuated. Niverville Car 2 arrived on scene and requested the second-alarm, sending mutual aid to the scene from Stuyvesant, East Chatham, South Schodack, Kinderhook, North Chatham, Stockport and Stuyvesant Falls for manpower and to establish a tanker relay, as they had a quarter-mile long driveway. The first two arriving tankers on scene dropped their LDH up the driveway, and Kinderhook parked halfway up the driveway and established the water supply as the relay engine.

As firefighters made their way into the house they had a heavy smoke condition throughout and attempted to locate the seat of the fire. A working basement fire was discovered, which had quickly traveled above their heads into the attic. Firefighters deployed multiple hand lines inside of the structure and began to search for the source of the fire. As the smoke and fire conditions inside intensified, command ordered all of the units inside of the building to evacuate. Heavy thick gray and black smoke started to push from the roof and firefighters began to set up multiple hand lines on the outside of the residence.

As additional firefighters arrived on scene, heavy smoke started to push from the windows on the first floor and fire began to push through the roof of the building. The Nassau, Ghent, Red Rock and Stottville Fire Departments were dispatched to the scene. Valatie’s ladder truck set up in the rear of the structure.

As firefighters made entry again to work inside of the structure and attempt to knock down the heavy fire condition, a MAYDAY was transmitted by a firefighter that had become separated from their partner. With no FAST team on scene, command requested the Claverack Fire Department to expedite to the scene and also requested the City of Hudson to the scene with their FAST team, but they were at least 30 minutes away. Firefighters worked together and were able to extricate the lost firefighter from the building, who was then evaluated by EMS.

With heavy fire traveling throughout the structure and making its way into the basement of the building command notified all units on scene that they were going into a full defensive operation, and no one was to enter the building. Heavy fire continued to travel throughout the attic area of the building, slowly burning off the roof. As firefighters began to pull around the eaves of the structure to make holes to spray water into the attic area, they discovered that the insulation in the attic was dry hay, which allowed for the fire to easily travel through the attic.

Firefighters began to drop their coats as temperatures hovered around 90-degrees, and a large amount of bottled water was brought up the hill to the exhausted firefighters. EMS on scene checked on firefighters as they came in to rehab to hydrate and catch their breaths.

Crews continued to conduct suppression efforts late into the evening hours. Command requested an excavator to the scene to attempt to pull apart the house and knock down the remaining heavy fire condition. Firefighters remained on scene until the late hours of the next day.

The fire department later determined through data from the national weather service that the fire was caused by a lightning strike. The house, which was over 100-years-old, was a total loss. All of the residents inside of the home made it out safely.

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