Rensselaer residents picking up pieces after large fire

April 25, 2018 01:20 PM

RENSSELAER - Residents are picking up the pieces of a large fire in Rensselaer on Tuesday night.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. However, people have been talking about a propane tank that was not properly shut off. Whether or not that's the case remains to be seen. If so, the fire would have climbed up a brick façade and spread very quickly.

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In the light of day, investigators get a good look at what's left on 1st Street. Neighbors describe what they saw as it raged Tuesday night.

"Like a fireball," said Christina Price. "It kept going and going and going. They thought they had it under control, but then it started shooting up again. Finally, they got it under control and it went out – but it destroyed so much."

"It was a close call. It was still early enough in the evening where everybody wasn't necessarily sleeping," said Asst. Chief Jay Corcoran with Rensselaer Fire Department.

At one corner of the housing project, an elderly woman's garden sits in mud. At the other end, a man and his brother retrieved his all-important tools. He has to support his wife and three young kids.

Then there is Brenda McClain. She works for Equinox helping others. When she arrived at home, it was already on fire.

"The first thing I thought was my son, 'cause he's usually in bed sleeping by that time and I ran in the house screaming his name and realized he wasn't there – and grabbed my dog and ran out," said McClain.

There's relief on her face and in her voice after getting great news on Wednesday morning. The money she had been saving to help her move to a new place was saved.

"I was really relieved. A lot of hard work. I have been saving for a long time," she said.

The Red Cross is helping at least 13 people, including five children ages 5 to 16.

Many people stayed very close in other housing projects with friends and relatives, so they could get back in as soon as they could and retrieve what they could.


WNYT Staff

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