Schenectady County

Firefighters battle Scotia house blaze

Residents escaped safely from a burning village house Friday, but firefighters were unable to save a
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Residents escaped safely from a burning village house Friday, but firefighters were unable to save a service dog, officials said.

“Captain [David] Briggs bolted into the house to try to save the dog,” Fire Chief Richard Kasko said. “He grabbed the thermal imaging camera, but it was too late. … It’s a terrible thing.”

By the time Briggs made it to the second floor, heat and smoke was too intense and he got out.

As many as seven people lived in the small home at 515 S. Holmes St. An eighth lived there part time, Kasko said. The Red Cross, which is assisting the residents, identified them as members of two families.

Three were home at the time of the fire, and all escaped without injury.

Firefighters battled the blaze for some time, shooting water in the second floor attic from inside after they could make entry. The fire is believed to have begun in an upstairs bedroom toward the front of the house, and was possibly electrical in nature, Kasko said.

The fire did heavy damage to the second floor, with smoke, heat and water damage to the first floor.

The blaze also burned off the power line leading to the home, sending it falling and sparking onto South Holmes. Electrical workers stood guard over the line until it was safely removed.

Kasko identified the owner of the house as Michael Knuth and the owner of the service dog as Margaret Montgomery.

Kasko said he did not believe the residents had insurance.

Stephanie Iwan was in her home across the street when she saw the lights flicker. She looked out the window and saw the flaming home and sparking wire.

She said she didn’t know the residents there well.

“They’re quiet people,” she said. “They love animals.”

Some frogs that were housed on the first floor were saved, Kasko said.

The fire instantly brought back memories of another one, in June 2006, Iwan said. That fire severely damaged a home across Orlinda Avenue from Friday’s fire home.

“It was like a flashback,” Iwan said. “You always get nervous and panic.”

The local chapter of the Red Cross is helping the residents with temporary lodging and financial assistance. They are also helping with clothing, replacement medications and medical equipment. Scotia was assisted by other area departments.

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