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What you need to know for 08/20/2017

Man killed in Schenectady fire; 4 escape

Man killed in Schenectady fire; 4 escape

4 escape burning building
Man killed in Schenectady fire; 4 escape
Schenectady firefighters battle a two-alarm fire at 306 Green St. in Schenectady.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY -- An early morning fire on Green Street claimed one man’s life, fire officials said.

Four others escaped the burning building, Assistant Fire Chief Michael Gillespie said. The fire briefly spread to neighboring structures and took about an hour to completely extinguish.

Firefighters were called to 306 Green St. at about 1:30 a.m. by a passerby, Gillespie said. When they arrived, they were told a man was still inside, prompting a three-firefighter crew to search the burning structure.

“They were making a search in there and were pushed out by heat, smoke and flame and were unable to make contact with anybody in the building,” Gillespie said.

No further information about the man who died was available as of early Monday evening.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation, but Fire Chief Ray Senecal said Monday afternoon that there was no initial indication it was suspicious. The building will be demolished, likely late Tuesday morning, he said, allowing officials time to complete their investigation.

“We don’t want to move too quick,” Senecal said. Police and fire officials remained at the scene early Monday evening, and Green Street was blocked off from North College Street to John Street.

The fire spread briefly to the back side of Cottage Row apartments, damaging the third floor corner and charring part of the deck.

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Building superintendent Terry Williams lives in the damaged Cottage Row apartment. He said he awoke to someone banging on his door.

"I grabbed my keys, headed out and started banging on doors to get people out of the building," Williams said.

The fire had not yet spread to his building by the time he got out, Williams said. 

Another neighboring building, deteriorating and boarded up in spots, is 308-310 Green St. It is the childhood home of former Schenectady Mayor Frank Duci and was set to be renovated, thanks in part to funding from the Capital Region Land Bank.

Those plans were being reevaluated after Monday’s fire “appears to have severely damaged” the building, said David Hogenkamp, executive director of the Land Bank.

The Land Bank announced earlier this month it had received $450,000 from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office through the “Neighbors for Neighborhoods” grant program. A portion of that award is slated to go toward restoration efforts at the Green Street property, though an exact amount had not been established.

The Land Bank was still working with property owner Brett Kennedy to determine the scope of the renovation and to secure approval from the New York State Preservation Office, so Kennedy could access tax credits.

Kennedy plans to have a contractor inspect the damage, but still anticipates moving forward with renovations, Hogenkamp said. The Land Bank will review how the damage will impact the project’s budget before approving funding, he said.

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