Police look for source of fire in Saratoga row houses
SARATOGA SPRINGS Investigators are planning to dig into the rubble of the Woodlawn Avenue row houses toppled by an intense blaze that ripped through them in July.
Saratoga Springs Police Lt. John Catone said the goal is to get to a specific area of the building where authorities believe the July 28 fire broke out. Though declining to identify the exact location, he said the area will likely help investigators pinpoint a cause.
“I’m interested in a very specific spot of that building and the demolition people are going to help me get to that spot,” he said Friday.
Catone wouldn’t rule out any specific cause. He did, however, refute initial reports of the fire originating in an electrical closet in one of the apartments.
“There are also items that have been sent to the New York State Police lab that are being analyzed,” he said. “When that is done, we’ll have some better answers.”
Meanwhile, investigators are continuing to conduct interviews regarding the fire. Catone said the process has been slowed by some people moving away since the fire. Investigators have talked to people in Oregon and Pittsburgh, Pa., in addition to New York Racing Association workers now located in the New York City area. The block-long building housed more than 30 people at the time of the fire.
About 16 people were in the buildings when the pre-dawn blaze started; all escaped uninjured. Roughly 100 firefighters responded to the scene but were unable to prevent the fire from spreading through all five row houses.
The house at 108 Woodlawn was almost entirely destroyed, save for its brick façade; 106 Woodlawn sustained massive damage and was partially collapsed by the fire.
The fate of the buildings remains uncertain.
Catone said he’s reviewed more than 300 photos and roughly 90 minutes of video footage taken at the scene. He promised to produce a multimedia presentation detailing how the fire started and spread once a cause is determined.
“We’ve been able to narrow things down,” Catone said. “We have a very good idea about a point of origin.”