WNYT.com

Three homes devastated by fire in Albany

Posted at: 01/25/2013 4:58 PM
Updated at: 01/26/2013 5:52 AM
By: Lily Jamali

ALBANY - Firefighters spent two hours working to control a blaze that engulfed three double-family homes on Dove Street in Albany Friday afternoon.

The homes were condemned and slated to be torn down overnight.

John Bassett lives right next to one of those homes.

Just as the flames came under control, he and his family - including his two-year-old daughter - were headed to his mother's house to figure out what's next.

"I'm sick. I'm sick to my stomach about all of this because now I basically have to find a place to live, get new stuff for my daughter, and start my life again," Bassett said.

Albany Fire Chief Robert Forezzi says firefighters had trouble right from the start - due in part to the way the homes are laid out.

"We couldn't get to the rear to fight the fire there so we had to go into adjoining houses to get to the back," Chief Forezzi said.

And cold temperatures meant the water they used to battle the blaze quickly turned to ice... The weight of which caused a roof collapse that prompted the firefighters to retreat.

Meanwhile, National Grid shut off power to the entire block to keep firefighters safe from live wires...

That forced residents - including little children and the elderly - into the bitter cold.

"There's no heat. There's no power because of the fire. So it's too cold in the house for her," said Danny Voss, as he accompanied an elderly woman out of her Dove Street home.

Neighbors gathered in a church on the corner - staying warm - snacking on pizza - and sharing their stories.

Nadia Gonzalez watched the fire grow from across the street.

"I felt scared because I felt like my house was going to get on fire," Gonzalez said.

Albany Fire officials are still investigating the cause.

One lead they're pursuing is the possibility that the occupants of one of the fire-ravaged homes were using kerosene heaters to deal with frozen pipes in their basement.