Story and Photos by Andy McEvoy
Herkimer County Fire Control Dispatched Little Falls Fire Dept to a reported structure fire at 19 Furnace St in the City of Little Falls at 9:02pm Saturday evening. They understood it to be an abandoned house. While enroute, Engine 112 could see the heavy smoke and called for a Box alarm. This automatically requests and expedites a predetermined amount of apparatus from neighboring departments.
Upon arrival on the scene, according to Assistant Chief Anthony Giaquinto, firefighters encountered heavy fire conditions on the back sides of 3 two story, wood frame residences at 17, 19 and 21 Furnace St. They attempted to extinguish as much of the flames as possible but the fire had already penetrated the structures. The additional manpower was needed to carry out operations in multiple dwellings. The fire spread rapidly.
Operations were hampered by the close proximity of the many wires running by the front of the house restricting access with the Little Falls aerial ladder. With the high flow of water needed for the multiple hand lines and master streams in operation, a number of fire hydrants were hooked up to supply enough water.
Equipment from neighboring Fire Departments included Engine 115 from Herkimer, Tower Ladders from both Ilion and Dolgeville, an Engine from Salisbury and an Engine and manpower from East Herkimer to stand by in the Little Falls Fire Station. MOVAC Ambulance was also on the scene to handle EMS for the fire scene and the City. Hundreds of spectators were drawn to the scene as the smoke could be seen for miles away.
Although all three structures remained standing, there was heavy damage to all three. Chief Rob Parese felt the operations went well. Considering that there was only a few feet between some of the houses in that area, the potential was there for a far worse outcome. They were able to protect exposures on both ends of the three houses that burned. One of the firemen rescued a little cat that survived from one of the fire ravaged houses. That brought out some cheers of joy from the owner, family and friends.
The New York State Fire Investigators were arriving as the fire scene was being mopped up. No immediate cause was determined. There was some speculation as to which house the fire started in, but it will take interviewing neighbors and a thorough investigation to determine the cause. One of the firemen mentioned that the Fire Department had previously responded to one of the houses for a less serious fire a few months ago but didn’t know the details.