Schenectady County

Fire walls help save facility

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of a fire that consumed a 22,000-square-foot s

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of a fire that consumed a 22,000-square-foot section of Building 6 at the Rotterdam Corporate Park.

More than 100 firefighters from eight companies around Schenectady County battled the blaze, which broke out at a section of the Distribution Unlimited warehouse shortly before 5 a.m. County Fire Coordinator John Nuzback said there is no official cause for the fire, which was prevented from spreading to other areas of the sprawling complex by the structure’s safety features.

“We don’t believe it’s suspicious,” he said late Wednesday afternoon.

Nuzback said the fire was first reported when the building’s sprinkler system triggered an automatic alarm. Flames spread quickly through the paper products stored at the warehouse. He said the building’s fire doors and fire walls — features that were built into the structure when it was an army depot — prevented the flames from spreading during the initial attack by firefighters.

“The fire walls and fire doors are what contained the fire to that section,” he said.

Nuzback said two workers were evacuated from the burning warehouse and roughly 40 employees from other areas of the building. Firefighters were also forced from the warehouse at one point, when a large section of its roof collapsed.

There were no injuries reported among firefighters or workers in the building. State and county fire investigators were sifting through the warehouse wreckage during the afternoon, but still hadn’t pinpointed a cause.

The Galesi Group owns both Distribution Unlimited and the sprawling complex off Duanesburg Road. David Buicko, Galesi’s chief operating officer, credited the efforts of the firefighters in extinguishing the blaze.

“They did a great job,” he said. “The collaborative effort from the various departments that came was terrific,” he said.

Distribution Unlimited also operates at the Scotia-Glenville Industrial Park. The company serves major national companies and boasts one of the largest public warehousing and distribution facilities in the Northeast.

The blaze in Rotterdam was the third significant fire call at the park over the past 14 months. The first was touched off in Building 14, when flames ignited inside a machine hopper and then spread into a large collector at the New York Rubber Recycling warehouse in June 2007.

More than a half-dozen fire crews were called to the business again in September 2007, when smoke pouring from an overturned bucket loader raised fears of a larger fire in the warehouse. Crews were largely precautionary because the source of the acrid smoke couldn’t be located immediately.

Buicko was unsure how much damage was done to Building 6 or the amount of product his company lost during the latest fire. He said the amount of the park damaged by the fire wasn’t extensive, considering the 260,000 square feet contained in Building 6 alone.

“I can’t even smell any smoke [in my office],” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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