March 18, 2013

City apartment building damaged by fire

By Chris Fasolino

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A fire seriously damaged a Margaret Street apartment building Sunday evening, displacing tenants. 

The downstairs apartment where the fire started was gutted. In addition, the fire breached a second-floor apartment. The building is without water and power, as firefighters had to pull down walls and the ceiling.

Only two of the five apartments were occupied. No one was injured. The fire was reported via a 911 call at about 5:30 p.m.

The 253 Margaret St. building is owned by Andrew and Helen Brault. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

“It started in the front downstairs apartment,” said Patrol Lieutenant Scott Beebie of Plattsburgh City Police. “Other than that, we don’t know — it’s still a work in progress.”

When firefighters responded, they saw smoke coming from the building.

“When we opened the building, the fire lit up,” said Captain Michael Edwards of the City of Plattsburgh Fire Department. “The building had been holding the fire in check, it was waiting for oxygen. So when we opened the building, it lit up — but we were ready to put it out.”

“That’s why we tell people never to open a door on a fire — it’s just waiting for the oxygen,” Edwards said.

The apartment where the fire started is occupied, but no one was home at the time. Residents in the other occupied apartment escaped safely. The total number of people displaced was not available Sunday.

Beebie said those displaced by the fire are being cared for.

“At this point, we’re actively helping the residents find lodging for tonight,” he said. “If they have a problem, we’ll be able to help them. But now, everybody looks like they’ll be taken care of for the night.”

The city fire and ambulance staff responded to the blaze. South Plattsburgh 32 Air Truck also assisted. District 3 Fire Department stood by through mutual aid.