Posted at: 07/15/2012 11:59 PM
| Updated at: 07/16/2012 11:10 AM
By: Dan Levy
TROY - Can you imagine being surrounded by flames, trapped inside your third floor apartment and instead of being ready to roll from a nearby fire station, firefighters are instead three miles away, at another fire scene?
That frightening coincidence played out in real life early Sunday morning in Troy and as frightening as it is to think something like that could happen, many residents felt it was infuriating and intolerable to find out that both fires may have been deliberately set.
Troy's fire chief described it as "insane": two burning buildings, both with heavy conditions, both with people trapped inside, and the calls coming in one minute apart.
"It's unusual," said Troy Fire Chief Tom Garrett. "You're just trying to scramble to get enough equipment to both scenes, and get mutual aid into the city in case something else happens."
By the time fire crews reached 22 118th Street in Lansingburgh at 1:00 A.M., someone had already pulled a baby out from inside. Three of the four apartments at that location had been occupied but everyone got out safely.
Meanwhile, at 257 Ninth Street, three family members were asleep on the third floor when several neighbors, heard the alarm, saw smoke, and dialed 9-1-1.
John Mayben, who lives across the street from the burning building, decided to take matters into his own hands, kicking in the door, and racing up the stairs to rouse the occupants.
"As I got to the landing on the second floor, the smoke was overwhelming," Mayben said.
He retreated, made back out to the street, and looked up.
"We finally got them to come to the window," he continued. "They started screaming. I said, "Go out the back!"
But the back of the house was filled with smoke and Mayben says he spotted a bright orange glow coming from there as well.
Finally a ladder truck pulled up in front of the building.
"That's a tough rescue," Garrett stated. "You're going up a ladder, you're trying to take somebody out that's probably never been on a ladder and trying to convince them to come down 35 or 40 feet."
Garrett says the Ninth Street fire is suspicious, just like the one on 118th Street, and the other one on 118th Street, in a garage two nights earlier.
"We've got somebody lighting fires, they're incendiary," Garrett says. "The concern is that we got people sleeping in the middle of the night and the house is on fire. It's not a good situation."
Garrett says there was "zero delay" getting manpower to both fire scenes. He says he called for mutual aid immediately, which sent crews from Watervliet and Green Island into Troy. Albany personnel covered the station house.
In the meantime, the landlord of the Lansingburgh property tells News Channel 13 that one of his tenants was planning to move out on Sunday, breaking her lease. It just so happens the fire was set outside the window of that tenant's first floor apartment, a coincidence that is one of several oddities investigators are looking into.
There were no serious injuries in either fire. The American Red Cross assisted four people in finding new places to stay.