SCHENECTADY — The fire that heavily damaged a vacant two-family house at 525 Schenectady St. in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood Tuesday is considered suspicious, a Schenectady fire official said.
The fire in the two-story house began on the back porch and flames had risen to the attic before firefighters reached the scene, Deputy Chief Kurt Gerfin said. He said smoke was visible in the sky as firefighters pulled out of the Veeder Avenue station, about five blocks away.
"It is considered suspicious," Gerfin said.
The fire, reported at 8:02 a.m., quickly went through the roof of the boarded-up building, making it structurally unstable — and by late Tuesday afternoon it had been demolished. No injuries were reported.
While 525 Schenectady St. was empty, Gerfin said the fire briefly spread next door and did minor damage to the eaves of a neighboring building. He said two people inside that building were asleep, and firefighters evaculated them.
The property is owned by the city of Schenectady, which holds title to a number of vacant properties in the neighborhood that it has acquired due to unpaid back taxes. There's an ongoing effort to reduce the number of blighted properties. Some nearby city-owned houses on Schenectady Street have been demolished by the city or by the Capital Region Land Bank, but 525 Schenectady St. was not on the planned demolition list of either.
Newspaper records show that a non-fatal shooting occurred at 525 Schenectady St. in 2015. The city took ownership in the fall of 2016.