Two Major Fires Destroy Twelve Albany Buildings
Two weekend fires in Albany destroyed multiple buildings and left more than two dozen families homeless.
Multiple fire departments responded Sunday morning as two separate fires ravaged buildings along Sheridan Avenue and Quail Street.
Albany fire officials say a 3 a.m. call brought responders to the 300-block of Sheridan Avenue where six buildings were involved, all heavily damaged. No injuries were reported. Between 4 and 5 a.m. came a second major fire call, this time to Quail Street where six buildings 168-through-178 were engulfed in flames.
American Red Cross Eastern New York Chief Communications Officer Kimmy Venter says volunteers were dispatched simultaneously to both locations. "At the time we helped a total of 64 people affected by each fire, so we had nine families from the Sheridan Avenue fire and another 15 families on Quail Street that we provided assistance to."
By the 7 o'clock hour, Daniel Beebe was on his way home to his Quail Street apartment from his job as a New York State Corrections officer when he got word. "I was driving home from work I had like 100 text messages and phone calls, missed calls, saying my place burned down, so when I got here finally I saw that they were tellin’ the truth. When I first got off at 7 is when I saw the messages and everything, and then my landlord called me and that's when I knew it was real, it wasn't a joke."
Beebe wasn't sure what his next move would be. He said he had no renters insurance. Venter says the Red Cross is still assessing the aid it has provided. "Overnight I got an update that we've assisted three additional families, 12 more people on Quail Street. So the total we've helped overall now is 76 people."
Recovery is just beginning. Venter continued: "We give financial aid to help with people's basic needs right away, so they have money available for them to cover the cost of a hotel or food and clothing, the things that they need immediately. Going forward, coming through this week, our volunteer caseworkers will pick up with all of these families and work with them on the next step in the recovery process. And that really requires a community partnership because there are limited resources that we have available to help and so we start to work with other agencies to provide referrals and recommendations to help people through the process if they're going to apply for additional assistance or other benefits moving forward."
One Quail Street fire victim was hospitalized. The city began tearing down what was left along Sheridan Avenue late Sunday and the Quail Street structures are next. According to the Times Union, 11 of the 12 buildings destroyed in the two fires were privately owned, covered by homeowners insurance, so the city won't have to pay demolition costs.