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Albany Firefighters Battle Two-Alarm Basement Fire with Electrified Siding

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

ALBANY, NY - On November 18th at 8:28 A.M., the City of Albany’s emergency communications center transmitted the alarm of fire for 271 Myrtle Avenue. The caller reported they had smoke in the basement. Rescue 9, Engines 7, 5 and 1, along with Trucks 1 and 4, the rescue squad, Mohawk Ambulance Service and battalion one responded to the scene. At the same time, another structure fire was being dispatched for 175 Sheridan Avenue on the second-floor for a burning smell in the home. Engine 9 arrived on scene on Myrtle Avenue and had heavy smoke showing from the basement windows and transmitted the Signal 30 for a working structure fire.

Firefighters laid in from the hydrant to the scene and began deploying a hand line to the front door. Firefighters made their way down to the basement to search for the seat of the fire and reported a significant amount of heat in the basement. At the other reported structure fire at 175 Sheridan Avenue, the incident commander on scene declared a Signal 10 and notified all other units that they could go back in service and requested fire investigators and code enforcement to the scene. Firefighters in the basement requested the hand line to be charged and command began to conduct their walk-around of the property. Command requested an additional engine company to the scene to act as a FAST Team. Firefighters inside the structure notified command that the primary on the second-floor and first-floor were negative.

Firefighters inside the basement requested an additional hand line. Firefighters pulled the hand line to the rear of the building and requested it to be charged. Truck 3’s crew began to vent the windows around the basement to allow for the superheated gases and toxic smoke to escape, and allow for firefighters to be able to search for the seat of the fire easier. As firefighters were venting the windows, interior crews notified command that they had a significant smoke condition throughout the structure and a heavy smoke condition in the basement, but could not find the fire. Firefighters made their way to the attic area and discovered they had no visible fire in the attic area, but a significant smoke condition.

Command made the request for the dispatcher to strike the second-alarm, as crews were not making much progress and conditions were getting worse. The dispatcher requested Engine 11, Rescue 2 and Truck 2 to the scene, and had all units evacuate the structure. Command also requested national grid to the scene to pull the meter to the home. As firefighters were working, they noticed electrical arcing from the windows and siding. Command made their way over to the electrical meter and discovered a squirrel that was electrocuted and had electrically charged the entire home. The aluminum siding on the home was arcing between the windows and it was extremely visible. Command notified the dispatcher to put out a notification tone to all firefighters on scene that the aluminum siding was electrically charged and to stay away from the home.

National grid was already requested to the scene as soon as the Signal 30 was dispatched, and national grid's crews arrived on scene within a few minutes of the second request. The national grid service rep pulled the meter to the home and capped it. After command confirmed that there was no power to the home, firefighters re-entered the structure and made their way down to the basement, and with the power killed to the whole home, firefighters were able to quickly find the seat of the fire and knock it down with a hand line. Firefighters notified command that they had the fire under control.

Fire investigators arrived on scene and began to conduct their investigation into the fire. Firefighters inside the structure began to conduct extensive overhaul and command notified the dispatcher that the incident was under control. Fire investigators were able to rule that the fire was caused by a squirrel that got into the electrical panel area and damaged a wire, electrically charging the entire house. Firefighters remained on scene until the late morning hours. No injuries were reported. The home suffered severe damage from the fire.

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