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Investigation Continues After Slingerlands Apartment Fire Kills One

Composite photo by Dave Lucas

Authorities in the Albany County Town of Bethlehem continue investigating a fire at an apartment complex that killed one person and destroyed a building. 

Bethlehem Police say they began receiving 911 calls just after 2 a.m. Thursday for a heavy fire at a multi-unit apartment building at 26 Meadowbrook Drive in Slingerlands.

Flames spread to three adjacent buildings in the complex. They suffered minor damage and residents of those buildings were allowed to return to their apartments.

WNYT reported the fire" burned for hours as National Grid officials struggled to turn off the gas line that was fueling it."

Bethlehem Police Commander Adam Hornick tells the TV station:   "There was structural damage in the windows from the intensity and heat of the fire as well as rescue efforts by emergency responders. But those things are minor in the fact that their belongings are all intact."

Hornick says the building, which housed seven apartments and an office, did not have sprinklers.  It was deemed a total loss. 

The body of one person, a man, assumed to be a resident, was found inside. His identity has not been released pending an autopsy scheduled for Friday afternoon at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady. There were some minor injuries to first responders.

American Red Cross New York Northeast Chapter spokesperson Kimmy Venter says her agency's responders were on the scene early Thursday. "They were really there just to meet with anyone who had been affected by the fire, been displaced from their home, and provide any immediate financial or emotional support resources that we could. My understanding is that the majority of those who were affected by the fire were being taken care of, I know the apartment complex stepped up to help, the fire auxilliaries, and I think a lot of people had other resources in the area that they were able to draw on, so we have received calls from a couple of families so far following up with us, but on the scene yesterday we really were just there to provide information and basic comfort items, toiletries, things like that, just to help people as they moved forward."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.