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Major fire hits State Street apartments (with photo gallery)

One resident unaccounted for as firefighters battle blaze

Thursday, March 1, 2012
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Schenectady firefighters battle a 2-alarm fire at the corner of State Street and Western Parkway late Wednesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Schenectady firefighters battle a 2-alarm fire at the corner of State Street and Western Parkway late Wednesday.

— A fire that ripped through the top floors of a three-story residential building off State Street late Wednesday night had fire officials uncertain of the whereabouts of an older occupant.

The fire at 1461 State St., near the intersection of Western Parkway, continued burning strongly more than an hour after the first calls came in just before 10:30 p.m. Firefighters worked to contain the blaze in wet snow and drizzle.

At least three people were rescued from the fierce blaze as it developed, according to police. There were no immediate reports of injuries but details regarding the residents were not available. The building contains eight apartments, according to real estate records.

“They can’t get in there to verify yet,” said a Schenectady police officer, of the unaccounted for man who lived in a rear unit on the first floor. “I guess there are people who believe he’s in there. But he’s definitely not out here.”

Witnesses had gathered across the street with camera phones and video cameras to capture the scene. Neighbors described the unaccounted for man as an elderly, small individual.

“He was kind of older and didn’t leave often, they’re saying,” said the officer. “They can’t get into the building yet, though.”

Earlier reports over the scanner described one resident on an upper floor who had opened a window and looked as though they were about to jump out.

The Schenectady Fire Department was the first to respond and requested backup from Scotia, Glenville and Niskayuna fire officials. The fire had gone through the roof and singed the exterior of a neighboring building.

Rotterdam fire officials arrived on the scene around 11:15 p.m. No information regarding the possible cause of the blaze was available late Wednesday.

The State Street structure is a multi-family home built in 1962, with brick walls and a third-floor balcony that on Wednesday night was in near ruin from lapping flames and the force of an aerial water stream.

Another aerial stream was being directed on the building’s north side, where the Western Parkway intersection provided enough room for a fire truck to position the massive stream.

One man was seen darting across the street carrying an animal crate. Another man roamed the sidewalk opposite the burning building looking for anyone who could take a handful of coats and stuffed animals for the displaced residents.

The two aerial water streams were attempting to soak the third floor, and the sound of glass from the windows being broken was audible.

Traffic on State Street was blocked off from Charles Street to Willow Avenue as fire and police officials were still assessing the situation past midnight.

National Grid was also on the scene, checking utility poles and power lines.

 
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