Cohoes fire devastates community

December 01, 2017 02:46 AM

COHOES -- “You know what it looked like,” said Ray Coney of Cohoes. “A tornado. A tornado fire. Like a whirlwind. Just sucking everything up.”

Within minutes a massive fire that broke out at 226 and 228 Remsen Street in Cohoes Thursday quickly spread.

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Strong winds carried the flames to buildings across and down the street.

“With the wind it just made it even worse and I see one jump from one side of the street to the other side of the street back to the other side of the street,” Coney said. 

The flames blew onto the building where Smith’s Restaurant is, about 500 feet or so down the street. 

“Somewhere after three I think I was at work,” said Andrew DeBenedetto. “I got a call about the down the street fire.”

DeBenedetto lives in a third floor apartment above Smith’s Restaurant. 

“So far I think I am lucky,” DeBenedetto said. “I was told that it's mostly smoke and water damage on my floor. I might be able to get a little bit of clothes and some personal items.”

A short time later, however, a hot spot ignited in the back of DeBenedetto's building, which sent firefighters scrambling to put it out. 

Coney lives on White Street, which intersects with Remsen, and said flames blew over to the building next to his apartment. 

“The church next to me caught on fire and the library too I think they caught on fire,” Coney said. “They had to evacuate everything.”

Fire officials said a dozen or more people might have been displaced with more than 20 buildings impacted. 

The Red Cross set up a shelter at the Cohoes Community Center for people who have been displaced by the fire. 

“They've lost everything, they don't have anywhere to go back to tonight,” said Kimmy Venter, Regional Director of Communications at the American Red Cross. “So for those people we do want to make sure that they get immediate financial assistance from us and can find a place to stay tonight.”


WNYT Staff

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