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What you need to know for 01/20/2018

Fire in Schenectady displaces 25 residents

Fire in Schenectady displaces 25 residents

A Wednesday morning fire sent 25 residents of a boarding house on Lower Broadway out into the cold,
Fire in Schenectady displaces 25 residents
Tenants from 1302 Lower Broadway stand in a parking lot after flames were discovered on the 2nd floor, sending nearly 25 residents into the cold Wednesday. Fire officials at the scene were inquiring about temporary shelter at the City Mission.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

A Wednesday morning fire sent 25 residents of a boarding house on Lower Broadway out into the cold, with firefighters having to summon a CDTA bus to help keep them warm.

The fire ended up being relatively minor, confined to a second-floor room and the third-floor room above it, fire officials said.

No injuries were reported, but the evacuees still had to contend with the cold and were expected to be displaced for a few days, officials said. Local agencies, including the Schenectady City Mission and Bethesda House, were offering help in the meantime.

Resident Victor Neugebauer, 51, escaped after hearing multiple alarms. He said he could smell smoke as he left.

“There are so many fire escapes there, there wasn’t too much stress,” said Neugebauer, who has lived at the house for about a year and a half. “But it was so cold, that made it much more difficult.”

Firefighters were called to 1302 Lower Broadway just before 9:30 a.m. They were able to get the fire out quickly, confining fire damage to the two rooms. The rest of the building sustained smoke damage, however, while a bar on the first floor, the Kreusi Ave Pub, had some water damage, Deputy Fire Chief Scott Doherty said.

Firefighters also made sure the rest of the residents were evacuated safely. They called in the CDTA bus to give displaced residents a warm place to wait. The city has an agreement with the company for just such an occurrence, Doherty said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Gary Hawkins, 67, who sought shelter at the City Mission Wednesday afternoon, said he had lived at the boarding house for about 10 years. He recalled the building manager came around yelling there was a fire and for everyone to get out.

He said he fled without his cellphone and other items, though he did manage to grab his coat.

“I don’t even have my cane,” he said.

The Fire Department later allowed residents to get back inside to get belongings.

City Mission officials were ready to help the evacuees with anything they needed, including coats and gloves. If they didn’t have another place to stay, they were welcome to stay there, too, City Mission Director of Ministries Chris Silipigno said.

“If they do need anything for winter, clothing, anything like that, we’ll be able to help them,” Silipigno said.

Neugebauer was appreciative of the help.

“Just to have a warm place to sit is a blessing,” he said.

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