Two city policemen trying to evacuate a burning apartment building this afternoon found themselves briefly trapped by the billowing smoke, with one of the officers having to kick out a window to help them escape.
The officers, Ryan Maloney and Matt Hoy, both suffered smoke inhalation, while Maloney also suffered a cut to his leg while kicking out the window. Both were treated and released from a local hospital.
No residents suffered serious injuries in the blaze at 1316 State St., which was called in at 12:39 p.m.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation this evening, but Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett termed it suspicious. Police were still interviewing witnesses, including a man who is believed to have fled the building. He was picked up in the nearby McDonald’s parking lot, arrested on an outstanding warrant in an unrelated matter, Bennett said.
Police were first called to the scene for a domestic dispute, but arrived to find the fire, Bennett said. Officers then went to work trying to evacuate the small multi-unit apartment building, ensuring no one was left inside.
Maloney and Hoy then found themselves on the building’s second floor with no escape route, Bennett said. That’s when Maloney kicked out the window.
Firefighters, by then on the scene, saw the window break and got a ladder and bucket truck up.
“They assisted them out of the building, thank God,” Bennett said.
Bennett said he talked to Maloney before he went to the hospital.
“He thought he was in serious trouble,” Bennett said. “He was quite concerned. Both were.”
Firefighters were able to quickly put out the blaze, but not before an apartment on the second floor was severely damaged and an apartment above it was also damaged. Smoke also went throughout the building.
Scotia and Niskayuna fire companies were on standby during the blaze. State Street, near the fire scene, was closed for much of the afternoon.
Several residents were home at the time but escaped unharmed.