SCHENECTADY — A 4-year-old girl died early Saturday morning in a Mont Pleasant neighborhood house fire, fire officials said.
Her father suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the blaze and told fire officials he was hurt trying to get his children out of the building, according to Assistant Fire Chief Don Mareno.
Schenectady firefighters responded to the two-family duplex at 1132 Sixth St. at around 3:20 a.m. for reports of a fire.
Mareno said, firefighters soon learned of reports that people remained inside.
In all, nine people were inside. Six people in total were upstairs, besides the 4-year-old and her father, there was another adult and three children, along with pets. In the unit downstairs, there were three people.
Upon arriving firefighters soon found the 4-year-old girl, quickly got her to treatment on scene and then on to Ellis Hospital, where she later died, according to the assistant chief.
The building’s second floor sustained the brunt of the damage from fire, smoke and water, while the first floor experienced water damage.
Mareno said the fire was under control in about 20 minutes and out in 30.
The Red Cross responded as well and is aiding everyone involved, he said.
“The Red Cross provided health services, counseling services and financial assistance for necessities such as shelter, food and clothing to four adults and four children, ages 1, 6, 7 and 9,” states a press release from the humanitarian organization. “Volunteers also offered emotional support and comfort kits containing personal care items. In the coming days, Red Cross staff and volunteers will remain available to help those affected by the fire as they navigate the road to recovery.”
Mareno said fire investigators were on the scene within 25 minutes of the call. However, a cause has not been determined, and the fire remains under investigation.
“They have a good working theory of what occurred,” the assistant chief said.
Fire crews battled the blaze through extremely cold weather. The temperature upon arrival was about 2 degree, Mareno said, prompting ice issues throughout the scene, as well as concern for firefighters’ exposed skin.
“It does cause some issues but it’s nothing that we’re not familiar with this time of year,” he said of the cold.
With the loss of the child, Mareno called the fire an extremely tough one for the department.
“They did an extraordinary job under conditions and under the circumstances of the fire, but this one hurts a little bit more because it’s a child,” he said. “Any time there’s a loss of life it’s not good, it’s sad. That’s what we’re out there to do, is to prevent loss of life.”
He said the department has internal measures to deal with what happened.
“A lot of what we do is among ourselves,” he said. “Its the brother and sisterhood, so we are always looking out after each other.”
Mareno said when incidents like this occur the best thing the department can do is to talk about it.
“We talk about the fire. We talk about our tactics. We talk about the results of the fire — what we could have done to change the outcome,” he said, “so just talking about it is very therapeutic.”
He said the city does have an employee assistance program should anyone need additional services. The department also has a chaplain.