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Amsterdam library to reopen Friday, after being closed by fire

Amsterdam library to reopen Friday, after being closed by fire

Fire's cause still under investigation

AMSTERDAM -- The Amsterdam Free Library is set to partially reopen Friday, after being closed for three days following a fire Tuesday that damaged the building.

Library director Nicole Hemsley said a portable lift being used in a roof repair project caught fire near the building’s front entrance on Church Street. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Amsterdam Free Library Fire Damage.jpg

The library’s main floor will be open to the public, but the children’s section on the second floor will be closed until further notice. Hemsley said soot is coating surfaces and materials on the second floor, which must be thoroughly cleaned before it can be accessed, particularly by children.

“The fire broke through one of the upper windows, and there’s a fine layer of soot all over the department, so we want to make sure it’s cleaned properly,” Hemsley said.

The library is working with its insurance company to determine the cost of remediation. Hemsley did not have a timeline for when the work will be completed.

She credited the quick action of the Amsterdam Fire Department, whose headquarters are across the street from the library, with saving the building. The fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, and Hemsley said if the flames were allowed to reach a few more feet into the building’s attic, the structure would have likely been lost.

“It would have been a disaster if [the fire] went on another five or 10 minutes,” she said.

The library said patrons should access the building via the entrance on the north side of the building, opposite the fire department building on Route 5. The main entrance will remain inaccessible until repairs are complete.

The library has also delayed the start of its summer reading program to July 24.

Hemsley, in a statement released Thursday, called the fire a “near disaster.”

“I am relieved to know that we will once again open our doors, given how close we came to losing the library and its entire collection,” she said.

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