Apartment building fire victims wonder why no alarms sounded

October 13, 2017 06:35 PM

TROY - Smoke detectors did not go off initially, as fire burned on the second story of a Cottage Street apartment building in Troy on Thursday night. Luckily, the 20 or so people who lived there got out safely.  However, firefighters got a late start at trying to put out the flames.

We're still left with many questions like what caused it, where will students who live there go now and why didn't smoke alarms go off right away?

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People are now boarding up the windows. There's still no official cause. Some of the residents have been put up in other apartment buildings. However, fire officials have a theory that the fire could've started in the attic - above the smoke detectors.

Investigators brought out a drone to get a look straight into the second floor of the 10-unit apartment building.

The fire was raging Thursday night before firefighters even knew about it. Tenants like Lindsey Duffy didn't know either. She thought that burning smell was just another campfire.

"I smelled campfire before. I just checked the stoves, the air conditioners anything that was plugged in to see to see if there's any type of electric problem and I didn't see anything so I went back to doing what I was doing," she explained.

NewsChannel 13 asked apartment management why those smoke detectors didn't initially go off. Co-owner Ed Holland said he put up new detectors or replaced batteries this year.

Troy Fire Assistant Chief Eric McMahon says it's possible smoke detectors were properly installed, but the fire started above them. He's seen it before.

"There has been situations in the city of Troy in which a bathroom fan causes a fire. That fire manifests itself into the attic space and the people that are in the living quarters of the structure have no idea that there's a fire in their attic," explained McMahon.

There were also no sprinklers in the building. The chief says since it was built in 1970, they weren't required then.

"If it wasn't for the guy who saw the roof and came inside and banged on our doors, we would've been in there," noted Morgan Hems, one of the residents.

It's a mix of HVCC students and families in the apartments. The Red Cross is helping 17 of them like Senada Muratovic.

"I made a new life out here and everything. I was really, really focused on school and now I just feel like this is such a big setback. I can't believe everything's gone," noted Muratovic.

The alarms did eventually go off once the fire spread. The assistant fire chief NewsChannel 13 spoke with says you can put a smoke detector in your attic, but if it's not hardwired upon construction of your home, it might be tough to get up there, tough to replace and you may not even hear it.


WNYT Staff

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