Two 'careless smoking' fires in less than 24 hours
Bill Williams is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media firefighters in Columbia County battled two fires in less than 24 hours later linked to careless smoking. A fast-moving brush fire in Greenport the afternoon of March 23, blackened approximately 1 acre of land on Route 31, Greenport Fire Chief John Onufrychuk Jr. said. Greenport Fire Department responded to the scene at about 12:35 p.m. in the area near Otty Drive after receiving reports that a large area of brush was on fire. The first responders reported the fire was located directly under the high-tension power lines, in a swampy area. Flames shot several feet into the air. Fire police closed Route 31 to traffic while crews worked. The fire was reportedly under control after 20 minutes. The cause of the blaze is unknown, but it is suspected to have been started by careless smoking, Onufrychuk said. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and Columbia County Fire Coordinator’s Office assisted. Williams is also reporting that six families are homeless after fire broke out early March 24, at a Hudson apartment building on Fairview Avenue, near Green Street, city Fire Chief Anthony Demarco said. The families were either assisted by the Red Cross or are staying with relatives, the chief said. Flames could be seen coming from the roof and third floor as firefighters arrived at 34 Fairview Avenue at about 1:15 a.m. The fire was burning in a wall in unit number 4, but spread quickly into the building and the attic area. Firefighters cut holes in the roof to release heat and smoke and to help them get better access to the fire in the attic. Everyone was able to get out of the building safely. The two apartments on the third floor and part of the attic sustained extensive damage and there was smoke and water damage throughout the building. The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental, Demarco said. It is believed to have started on the third-floor balcony due to careless smoking. Hudson firefighters were assisted by companies from Greenport, Catskill, and Claverack. Read both stories at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.