The Daily Gazette is operating as normal following a suspicious fire early Sunday morning.
There was no significant damage after what appeared to be three small fires that broke out in The Gazette’s mailroom and pressroom around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday. Cleanup after the fire wrapped up Monday at Gazette headquarters on Maxon Road Extention.
There was minor electrical damage and water damage on the first floor of the Gazette building. Electrical breakers that were affected by the fire have been replaced.
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The Gazette was printed in-house Sunday evening and will continue to operate as normal.
“Inspectors from the city came in and were extremely helpful, and ran through all of our electrical systems and cleared us,” Gazette Publisher John DeAugustine said. “We still have some maintenance work to do.”
The building’s sprinkler system did not go off at the time of the blaze. DeAugustine said if it did, water damage to paper and the press would have delayed operations for days.
DeAugustine said the sprinkler system is working. The alarm system was working during the fire.
Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal said the fire is being labeled suspicious. He said a cause and origin have not yet been determined by investigators.
“It’s very early in the investigation,” Senecal said on Monday. “We have a checklist of things we’re looking into. It will be a very thorough and thought-out investigation. These things take time.”
Investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the Schenectady Fire and Police departments, are continuing to investigate the incident.
The Gazette will be reviewing safety procedures and increasing security following the fire.
“We will review our cameras, locks and security access, and whether we want 24-hour personnel with a security guard,” DeAugustine said. “We want our employees to feel safe and that’s critical at The Gazette.”
DeAugustine said employees at The Gazette, which total 140 full time, are handling the situation well.
“People in the newspaper business rally around emergencies and react extremely well to those situations,” he said. “People are very supportive. We are still concerned some people may be afraid and we will do everything we can to make sure they’re not.”
The Gazette has a total of 210 employees including part-time workers. Those numbers do not include carriers and truck drivers, who are hired as contractors by The Gazette and also have access to the building.
Senecal said everyone is being considered as part of the investigation.
The fire on the first floor of the three-story Gazette building was under control in about 20 minutes, Senecal said. There were no reported injuries.
It appears there were three separate fires. One set to uniforms hanging on a rack by a wall in the mailroom, another in a bin filled with towels and mop heads, and a large stack of newspapers in the pressroom.
Tony Tomaro, a district manager at The Gazette, was the only person reportedly in the building at the time. Tomaro spotted the fires, pulled the fire alarm and called 911. He tried to extinguish one of the blazes before exiting the building.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the Schenectady Police Department TIPS line at 518-788-6566.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.