A fire that ripped through the second floor of a two-family house on Bradley Street on Saturday morning left an elderly couple and their daughter without a home and three firefighters with minor injuries.
Schenectady Deputy Fire Chief Scott Doherty said early Saturday afternoon that the department was still investigating the cause of the blaze, which likely originated in the rear of the second floor.
The call came in at 10:19 a.m. and the blaze took 18 firefighters about an hour to put out.
“It’s for sure uninhabitable, and it may need to come down,” said Doherty of the now charred yellow building at 1666 Bradley , across the street from Central Park Magnet School.
The Louis and Maria LaTorre and their children were in shock afterwards, as they cared for their pets that managed to escape. One dog, one cat and one bird were rescued. One cat perished and three were unaccounted for.
Laura Trifilo had just moved into the first floor of the building to care for her parents, Maria, 71, and Louis, 86, who were dealing with medical conditions. She kept boxes and her animals in the upstairs apartment, which she planned to eventually rent.
Trifilo recalled hearing thumping sounds coming from upstairs Saturday morning as she was getting breakfast for her brother, who was visiting for the weekend.
“That’s where the cats stay and I thought they were playing,” she said, her eyes watering. “And then the thumping got louder and louder, and I thought, 'That can’t be the cats.’ So I went to open the back door and I smelled something funny.”
At that moment, the doorbell started ringing. When she answered the door, someone told her “your upstairs is on fire.”
As she shouted at her mother to call 911, Trifilo ran upstairs and opened the door, causing black smoke to billow out.
“My cats were crying and I’m like, 'Come out,’ and I couldn’t see them it was all black.”
The department initially got a call that people were trapped inside, but upon arrival everyone had made it out safely, said Doherty.
Flames were first visible lapping a second-story picture window on the south side of the structure that as of Saturday afternoon was charred and crumbling. Firefighters directed an aerial spray from the side and another from the front into the attic.
Doherty said they were lucky that the structure on the north side is a vacant property.
In the midst of battling the blaze, a lieutenant suffered a shoulder injury, a firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and another sustained a cut to his hand from the surrounding chain link fence.
Four engine companies, two trucks and one rescue backup responded to the scene Saturday morning. Mayor Gary McCarthy was also at the scene after the blaze.