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Fire Engulfs Columbia County

Tristan O'Neill, WAMC
In this photo taken from NY Route 9H on 8/2/12, smoke is seen rising from the Ghent, NY area.

A spectacular fire in Columbia County Wednesday night forced the evacuation of residents living near TCI Industries at 39 Falls Industry Park in West Ghent.

Fire broke out at the building around 10:30 p.m. The company dismantles transformers. Thick heavy smoke pouring from the roof was seen by firefighters when they arrived.

The burning chemicals inside the building forced firefighters to evacuate from the site. Residents living within a half mile radius were asked to pack up and go to the Chatham Firehouse for safety. A number of explosions were heard as the fire quickly engulfed the building.

Rensselaer County Emergency Management issued a message stating "all persons living or working in the Towns of Nassau, Schodack, and Stephenstown should shelter within, close all windows, shut off all air conditioning units, and devices that draw in outside air. Residents should be prepared to shelter within for the next 12 hours and are advised to spend as little time outside as possible. This measure is a precautionary measure. Residents are instructed to NOT dial 9-1-1, unless you have an emergency. For further information contact 266-7684."

State Police say Route 9H in Ghent New York has been closed between Falls Road and Knitt Road.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.