Crews battle barn blaze, questions raised about losses

— Photo courtesy of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office

Hot fire on a cold day: The Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Company and Albany County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a barn fire at 64 Waldenmaier Rd., on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

NEW SCOTLAND — Firefighters helped rescue animals from a burning barn last Wednesday with the temperature well below freezing.

On Jan. 3, at about 7:45 p.m., the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Company and Albany County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a barn fire at 64 Waldenmaier Rd., according to Mike Salisbury, Onesquethaw’s assistant chief.

When sheriff's deputies arrived on scene, the owner of the barn was attempting to remove his livestock from the barn, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

Salisbury said that while his crew fought the fire in the front of the barn, some of his other firefighters were working to push and pull whatever livestock they could out the back.

With assistance from the Albany County Sheriff’s Emergency Management Office, the remaining animals were relocated to a secure shelter on the premises, the release said; the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Extreme temperatures have to be taken into account when fighting a fire, Salisbury said, because water is likely to freeze.

“You’ve got to be very diligent with how you use your tankers and your water supply,” he said.

More importantly, Salisbury said, is that the crew can’t be exposed to freezing temperatures for too long.

To combat that, he said, he rotates his crew, letting some firefighters warm up and then take over for those who have been exposed to the cold.

None of the 37 firefighters who fought the fire in the frigid cold needed to be treated, Salisbury said.

Ardian Cecunjanin, the property’s owner, said on Monday that 20 to 30 animals died, including goats, sheep, and geese, 60 to 70 chickens died, and about two dozen turkeys died. Also, feed grain, tools, and building materials were burned.

The barn itself, Cecunjanin said, is a complete loss; he estimated total damages at around $50,000. The New Scotland assessment roll has the full-market value of the property listed at $60,700. A gofundme page has been set up.

Although a reader that saw The Enterprise story online called on Jan. 9 alleging that Cecunjanin had exaggerated the number of dead animals and that the gofundme page may have been a scam; Gerald Paris, the Albany County Sheriff's Office Fire Coordinator, told The Enterprise this week that approximately 50 to 60 chickens had died on Jan. 3, the night of the fire, as well as approximately five goats, but could not confirm anything else.

Chief Deputy William Rice of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office said he knew that the next day the owner had to put down more animals, but could not confirm the number because he had not been on site.

Repeated further calls to Cecunjanin were not returned.

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