20-Plus Displaced in Utica Fire That Was Home to Homeless
Nearly two dozen people have been displaced by a massive fire at a home on Mandeville Street that saw fire fighters rescuing people from the roof of the structure as it burned.
The fire was reported just after 6:00 p.m. on Sunday at 422 Mandeville Street.
Fire officials say heavy fire was visible from the back of the home's second floor with heavy smoke billowing from the second and third floors. Three people who were trapped on the roofs of the second floor were rescued by fire fighters using ladders to bring them down to safety, UFD said.
There are reports that upwards of two dozen people lived there, although it is unclear if the residence was officially occupied or if it was vacant and had become a home to squatters.
The fire tore through portions of the third story roof, which ultimately collapsed.
Pastor Mike Ballman with the Morrow Center at Cornerstone Community Church near Oneida Square in Utica wrote on Facebook that the center was assisting "20 of the almost 30 people staying in this abandoned house displaced by the fire tonight to find emergency shelter. DSS and ICAN worked really hard to get them into the Rescue Mission drop-in center for the night but they all chose to stay on the street rather than go to the Rescue Mission, just as they chose to stay in this cold, uninhabitable house than stay at the Rescue Mission all winter."
Ballman continued, "At some point we have to stop blaming people for choosing the streets over the Mission and provide a better option..."
The cause of Sunday's fire remains under investigation.