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More Details On Columbia Street Fire In West Utica

Utica Fire Department, Facebook

One person was seriously injured during an early morning fire at a “boarding house” located at 914 Columbia Street in West Utica.

Utica Fire Chief, Russell Brooks, explained the incident that occurred on the second floor shortly after five this morning.

“First crews responded, the cold index was about 15 below zero,” Brooks said. “They were confronted with a 2 1/2 story building, heavy fire and smoke on the second floor, and the occupants were exiting the building.”

Chief Brooks says crews worked for two hours in the sub-zero temperatures to put out the fire, while keeping it from spreading to other buildings, including one only 9 inches away.

“The guys did a great job protecting the exposure building, which was connected to other buildings that went right down the block,” Brooks said. “Had they not been able to keep it from that building, they would have lost the whole block.”

Brooks also says the building was registered with the City as a two-family home, but upon entering they discovered the building had been modified into a boarding house.

One occupant of the home received “significant” burns, and was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. Three firefighters were also injured, with one falling off an icy ladder onto another firefighter and another stepping on a nail that went through his boot.

Lately, the West Utica firehouse had been under the gun, as several council members want to shut it down. But, Brooks says this is a prime example of why it should remain open.

“This is just an illustration of how important it is to have that station there and have men there, and they were able to stop that fire before it was much, much worse,” Brooks said. “This is a high-risk district, we’ve probably had nine fire fatalities in West Utica in the past five years. So, this is an illustration of how important this protection is.”

An investigation into the incident has been completed by investigators, and will be released once it is finalized.

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