Spa City fire leaves 10 people homeless

A carelessly dropped cigarette has been blamed for a blaze that ripped through an apartment building
Saratoga Springs firemen finish putting out "hot spots" on the second floor of this apartment building fire located at 134 Grand St. in the city on Wednesday morning.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Saratoga Springs firemen finish putting out "hot spots" on the second floor of this apartment building fire located at 134 Grand St. in the city on Wednesday morning.

A carelessly dropped cigarette has been blamed for a blaze that ripped through an apartment building early Wednesday morning, displacing 10 residents.

No one was injured in the fire at 153 Grand Ave., where authorities were summoned shortly before 7 a.m.

The four apartments were destroyed, said Fire Chief Robert Cogan. “It’s an unsafe structure at this point,” he said.

He believes the fire started on a rear wooden porch where a resident admitted to smoking about midnight. A smoke detector awakened the residents at about 6:30 a.m., Cogan said.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy flames and spent several hours getting the blaze under control.

They remained even later putting out hot spots, with the last fire crews leaving the scene just before 5 p.m.

Parts of Grand Avenue, Beekman and Elm streets were closed for much of the day as crews worked at the scene.

Firefighters also had to find additional water sources after a 4-inch water main in front of the house proved inadequate. Six-inch mains are the minimum standard today, Cogan said, but some parts of the city still have the 4-inch mains.

Crews ran hoses about a block away to hook to a hydrant with a larger water main, and also called for tankers.

“It’s been an ongoing issue for decades,” Cogan said of the small water mains. “A hundred years ago, it was thought that 4-inch lines were enough.”

But he said the fire had enough of a head start that firefighters probably couldn’t have saved the structure even if they had more water.

Volunteer departments from Greenfield and Malta Ridge also responded to the fire.

The American Red Cross Adirondack Saratoga Chapter helped two of the families — a couple and a family of three that includes a 7-month-old baby girl, said Cheryl Murphy, emergency services coordinator.

The mother and her baby were home at the time of the fire, and the other couple was awake and smelled smoke, Murphy said.

The two families requested food and clothing but have places to stay, Murphy said.

Other residents weren’t at the scene, she said.

“They didn’t need housing. Everybody had a place to go.”

The building’s owner is listed as Helena Frost of Brewster.

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