Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

Garage fire spreads to home near Chatham Middle School



CHATHAM—A fire that started in the garage quickly spread to the house at 24 Woodbridge Avenue and left a family of four without a home, November 26 at 2:26 p.m.

Steve and Karen Engel and their two teenagers returned to their home Monday afternoon to find six fire companies trying to put out the stubborn blaze. Chatham Fire Chief Paul Pratt, told newsman Lance Wheeler that the lack of manpower hindered fast action by volunteers.
Mr. Engel is a popular guitar teacher. Firefighters were able to save some of his instruments. Mrs. Engel is a teacher in the Hudson City School District. Their children were in school and firefighters rescued their dog.


Chatham firefighters and under automatic mutual aid, Ghent and Red Rock with their FAST team and Chatham Rescue were dispatched.

East Chatham was asked to respond with an engine and interior firefighters; Niverville was called to the scene with their FAST team. After 3 p.m. interior firefighters were called in from Battalion Four: Kinderhook, Stockport, Stottville, Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Falls and West Ghent.

Spencertown stood by in Chatham’s quarters to cover calls in Chatham and Ghent. Niverville was requested to cover calls in Valatie; Schodack Landing and Nassau covered calls in Niverville and Valatie. Greenport was requested to standby at Stockport’s Station. New York State Electric and Gas cut power to the home.

Chatham Police, Columbia County Fire Coordinators Office and Columbia County EMS Coordinators Office were on the scene.

One firefighter was taken by Chatham Rescue to Albany Memorial Hospital.

The Columbia County Cause & Origin Team is investigating.

Firefighters cleared the scene at 6:58 p.m.

The Engel family lost many items in this fire including Christmas presents, according to Chatham Village Clerk Barbara Fischer, who seeks donations for them. Donations of clothing or money would be greatly appreciated, Ms. Fischer said in a press release. Checks should be made out to: Chatham Lions Club with the notation “Donation to the Engel family” on the memo line. The donation is tax deductible. See Ms. Fischer for more details.


Two structures at 4 and 6 Broad Street (Route 9) in the Village of Kinderhook were heavily damaged by a fire reported at 5:22 p.m., Sunday, November 25. Firefighters from Kinderhook and, under automatic mutual aid, Valatie were dispatched to the call. Additional mutual aid from Niverville, Chatham and Ghent was summoned to the scene.

Village Mayor Carol Weaver said Monday that Paul Calcagno, who owned the structures, plans to rebuild. A supporter of the village project to connect those buildings to the Valatie sewer plant, Mr. Calcagno donated $10,000 toward the project and rented one of the spaces to Rob Lagonia for a new Italian restaurant. Mayor Weaver said a structural engineer would look at that building to see if it could be saved.

The other building, which was most recently a liquor store, was torn down Monday.

“It could have been the whole block,” the mayor said of the fire, praising firefighters who kept the blaze contained. The fire is under investigation by the County Cause and Origin Team. The state Office of Fire Prevention and Control was advised.

National Grid was called to the scene to disconnect power. The Valatie Rescue Squad, Columbia County Fire Coordinators Office, State Police, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and Columbia County EMS Coordinators Office were all on the scene.

Fire units cleared just before 9:30 p.m.


Francis Barone, 20, of Germantown was charged on a warrant for second degree criminal contempt by Trooper Joseph Benziger, November 3 at 9:32 a.m. Mr. Barone was turned over to Deputy Travis VanAlstyne, who took custody of Mr. Barone on the warrant issued by Clermont Town Justice Ronald Banks.

Arraigned in Germantown Court, Mr. Barone was sent to the county jail in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or bail bond. He is to appear in Clermont Court at a later date.


David Bagner, 34, of Stockport was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated, failure to keep right and leaving the scene of a property damage automobile crash, November 9 at 7:36 p.m. Deputies Andrew Broockmann and Joshua Oakes charged Mr. Bagner during a traffic stop on County Route 25. Mr. Bagner was exiting the Walmart parking lot when he allegedly drove off the road, struck several shrubs, bushes and a utility pole then left the scene. Arraigned in Stockport Court before Justice Harold Horner, Mr. Bagner was sent to the county jail in lieu of $1,000 cash bail or $2,000 bail bond and ordered to return to court at a later date.


Daniel Dziamba, 41, of Philmont was charged with third degree assault and criminal obstruction of breathing, both class A misdemeanors, by Deputies Christopher Link and Peter Merante, November 10 at 1:39 a.m.

Mr. Dziamba allegedly struck a woman several times in the face causing injuries during a dispute.

He was arraigned in Claverack Court before Justice Michael Brandon, released on his own recognizance and ordered to appear in Philmont Village Court November 29.


Leon Samuel, 44, of Albany was charged with false personation and driving without a license by Columbia County Sheriff’s Sergeant John DeRocha, November 9 at 7:25 p.m. Sgt. DeRocha was investigating a suspicious vehicle on Hiscox Road and during an interview Mr. Samuel allegedly gave the sergeant a false name. Mr. Samuel was issued tickets directing him to appear in Greenport Court at a later date.


Columbia County Sheriff’s Sergeant John DeRocha investigated a one car personal injury crash on County Route 27 east of County Route 11, November 11 at 7:06 a.m.

Valarie Call, 36, of Copake was driving her 2008 Subaru west on County Route 27 when she fell asleep behind the wheel. The car went off the shoulder, struck a mailbox, a concrete culvert and landed on its driver’s side. Ms. Call was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital by private vehicle for evaluation. No tickets were issued.

To contact Diane Valden email



Related Posts