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12 story warehouse fire, Albany NY

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  • 12 story warehouse fire, Albany NY

    Ongoing right now - FD was dispatched @1600 hrs today to smoke from the roof and top floor of a 12 story former refrigerated warehouse in downtown Albany (BIG white building next to I787 for those who know the area). Box alarm transmitted on Batt. Chiefs' arrival - withing minutes flames visible ffrom the South-west upper window.

    Looks like the guys/gals are in for a loooooong weekend - defensive operations from the start - multiple mutual aid companies on scene and all hands called back into the City for coverage.....

  • #2
    From the Times Union website....I think I can see my truck in the picture :-)

    ALBANY -- The Central Warehouse, a massive and blighted concrete building just north of downtown, is engulfed in flames and firefighters have closed two exits from Interstate 787.

    Smoke is billowing out of five of the landmark building's 11 floors and the surrounding neighborhood is filling with thick, black smoke outside the building at Montgomery and Colonie streets.

    Firefighters can be seen battling flames on at least one side of the building. Firefighters from surrounding communities including Troy are aiding the city Fire Department.

    The fire is creating major traffic problems around the structure. Authorities have closed Exit 4A from I-787.

    An Amtrak spokeswoman said trains north and west of Albany were at a standstill because the person operating the Livingston Avenue Bridge, which carries rail traffic over the Hudson, had to be evacuated from the office. The tracks run close to the burning warehouse.

    "We cannot get in or out of Albany without an operator," she said.

    Julio Melendez, who owns neighboring Nors & T, LLC towing company with his son, Julian Melendez, said employees noticed the smoke at about 4 p.m. Fire crews arrived in minutes.

    The fire has temporarily closed his business.

    "We've had to tell a couple of trucks to go somewhere else. The trucks we have here can't get out," Julio Melendez.

    Melendez said the previous owners were active in the neighborhood, but the current owners kept a lower profile. He said he believe the owners had been removing metal and other items from the building.

    Kelly Gilliam, the owner of Duffy's Taxi on Montgomery Street, said nearly all of her cabs are trapped on their lot because of the fire.

    She said she fears the building could collapse.

    "Nobody is coming to us and telling us anything," she said.

    The building looms over an industrial part of the city and has been mostly vacant since the early 1990s.

    Developers have long eyed the warehouse for redevelopment. In fact, a group of investors purchased the 400,000-square-foot building in 2007 with plans to turn it into a retail, office and residential complex.

    That proposal never materialized, and earlier this year the warehouse was back on the market with a $4.9 million asking price.

    The warehouse was built in 1927 as a cold-storage and dry-goods warehouse. An old New York Central rail line runs directly into the building's second floor.

    A decade ago, the behemoth was the subject of a legal action brought by then-Attorney General Dennis Vacco.

    Vacco's office in 2000 got a court order to prevent the potential release of ammonia gas over downtown.

    A bankruptcy court judge, at Vacco's request, ordered electrical power to remain on at the Central Warehouse, a landmark easily visible to thousands of commuters from Interstate 787.The building's then-owners were going through bankruptcy court proceedings and were being pressed to cease all operations at the building.

    Prosecutors said they entered the case because closing down the facility could cause an environmental disaster. The building contained an old refrigeration system containing thousands of pounds of ammonia gas, along with layers of 18-inch-thick ice on several upper floors.

    Shutting off the power could cause the temperature to rise, the gas to expand and, possibly, valves to burst, releasing ammonia into Albany's air, Vacco argued.

    The state Department of Environmental Conservation inspected the facility in 2000, recommending the refrigeration system be purged of ammonia before being turned off.

    It is unclear if any ammonia or other chemicals remain in the building.


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