Schenectady County

Firefighting efforts believed cause of water main break in Schenectady

A small fire this evening on Bridge Street was quickly followed by a water main break apparently cau

A small fire this evening on Bridge Street was quickly followed by a water main break apparently caused by the firefighting efforts, officials said.

No one was hurt in the fire and it was small enough firefighters were able to get it out before the main break could impact operations, Deputy Fire Chief Kurt Gerfin said.

Firefighters were called to 811 Bridge St. around 7:30 for a fire in the rear of the building, Gerfin said. They arrived to find a third-floor exterior porch on fire but were able to quickly knock down the visible flames and cut a trench in the roof to prevent it from spreading.

The brick exterior kept it from entering the apartment.

Gerfin believed residents of the apartment building would be able to return later this evening. The cause was under investigation.

Firefighters tapped into a nearby fire hydrant to douse the blaze. Shortly afterward, though, the water pressure was cut. Water from the fire trucks’ 750 gallon tanks kept water flowing for firefighters, Gerfin said.

Had the fire been larger, the lack of water likely would have impacted the fight, he said.

The theory for the water main break is that tapping the hydrant caused a vacuum and broke the nearby main, Gerfin said. He said similar breaks have happened before as a result of fire-fighting efforts.

Resident Melia Carter waited across the street holding one of her three children. She said it was her back porch that was on fire, and that no one was on the porch when flames broke out.

She first realized it was on fire when she heard someone calling her name.

“It was really scary, especially when you have kids,” Carter said. “I left my cat up there. I hope he didn’t get hurt.”

The impact of the water main break was limited to residents on Bridge and Lansing streets. City officials said they expected the main to be fixed and water service restored to those streets by this morning.

Neighbors congregated outside for the dual commotion. Residents Jon Secore and Chris Schuffert were upstairs at their house playing music when they got a call about the commotion outside.

“I opened the door and all this was going on,” Schuffert said.

Water was flowing up from below the street right in front of their house. So he grabbed a lawn chair and took a seat near the short-lived river bank. “Might as well,” he said.

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