Trapped in basement, man escapes fire unharmed

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By Thomas Marra
For Capital Region Independent Media

A building on fire with a fire truck nearby.
A structure fire on Copeland Hill Road had no injuries despite an individual being trapped in the basement when the fire broke out.

COEYMANS HOLLOW — Reports of a fully involved structure fire with a person trapped in the basement sent first responders racing to a home in Coeymans Hollow late last Sunday night.

The call came in at 11:15 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7, for a fully involved structure fire with reported entrapment at 182 Copeland Hill Road in Coeymans Hollow.

Despite quickly spreading flames, there were no injuries, fire officials said.

With the reports of the fire being fully involved and an orange glow visible in the night sky, Chief Bill Kapusta of Coeymans Hollow Fire immediately requested mutual aid fire companies to be dispatched to the scene.

With the reports of the trapped individual, a second ambulance was also requested immediately.

“Arriving units found an oversized two-story, three-bay garage full-involved,” Kapusta said. “The blazing garage was attached to a two-story house to which the fire was spreading.”

The garage was fully involved with a car inside and flames were beginning to spread to the house.

The first arriving engine deployed four handlines to start fighting the fire.

One handline was used to extinguish flames at the side of the house that was beginning to burn, the second was used inside the house to keep the fire back as it was starting to spread, another was used on the garage and a fourth at the rear of the structure, according to Kapusta.

When police and fire officials arrived on the scene it was determined the occupant was able to make it out of the structure on his own.

The trapped individual was able to find his way through the smoke to get out of the house safely. The man has not been identified.

A tanker shuttle was established to shuttle water from a nearby pond to feed the engines at the scene of the fire.

While extinguishing the fire, magnesium from the vehicle in the garage began reacting to the water, creating bright white light emitting from the garage.

Overhead power lines also posed a concern due to their close proximity to the burning structure.

Crews had a quick knockdown of the fire and were able to prevent further spread to the house.

Firefighters on the scene of a massive blaze covering a building.
Firefighters on the scene of a massive blaze in Coeymans Hollow.

‘Thank you, you saved our house,’ Those were the words spoken to me while being hugged this morning,” Kapusta said following the fire. “The homeowners wanted everyone to know what an amazing job you all did last night saving their house after the oversized three-bay attached garage caught fire.”

On the scene were Coeymans Hollow, Selkirk, Ravena, Coeymans, New Baltimore, Onesquethaw and Westerlo fire departments with Ravena Rescue, Albany County Sheriff’s Ambulance, Albany County Paramedics, Albany County Sheriff’s and Coeymans Police with the guidance and assistance from Albany County Dispatchers.

Kapusta said he would like to thank all first responders who helped at the scene for their efforts in a fire that could have had a different outcome.

There were no reported injuries on the scene.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

“From the initial 911 call of a trapped victim to the fire that was quickly spreading into the house, this call could have been a lot worse,” Kapusta said.

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