No injuries in early-morning fire on Vosburgh Road 

The Enterprise — Michael Koff 

Appearances are deceiving: Guilderland Fire Chief Michael Dempsey said that the fire at 6494 Vosburgh Road produced a lot of smoke but few flames. The main part of the house suffered smoke and water damage.

GUILDERLAND — An early-morning house fire on Saturday at 6494 Vosburgh Road left the home uninhabitable, according to Guilderland Fire Chief Michael Dempsey, who said crews fought the fire for about six hours. 

Briefly at one point during the battle, flames were visible at the top of the house, “but not a lot,” Dempsey said. Most of the fire was in the walls, he said, describing the scene as “a lot of smoke, but not a lot of fire.” 

The older main structure of the two-story home was balloon-frame construction, dating from the 1800s, without fire breaks between floors; and a newer addition was light wood-frame construction, which burns fast and hot, Dempsey said, adding that the combination was “a difficult battle.”

The assessor’s office confirmed that the main structure dates from 1863, and an addition was put on in 1999.

Two people were in the home at the time, and both got out safely and without injuries, Dempsey said, adding that no firefighters were injured. There were no pets, Dempsey said. 

The fire chief explained the way that events unfolded that morning: The call came in just after 5 a.m. from the homeowner, saying that she had seen fire and had smoke inside the building.

Police were first on the scene, followed by Dempsey, and then Guilderland’s assistant chief, Bill Beha, and then a ladder truck. Dempsey did not know how many minutes it was before the arrival of the ladder truck but said it was “quick.”

Firefighters entered the first floor and the basement after cutting open the Bilco doors. Dempsey said the fire started in the basement, although he did not know the cause. 

The addition sustained the most damage, Dempsey said, and is a complete loss; the rest of the house sustained a lot of smoke and water damage. 

The floors were destroyed on the first floor of the two-story addition, Dempsey said, making it hard to attack the fire from the kitchen area. 

After firefighters put out the fire in the basement, crews needed to work their way up, putting out fires in the walls, especially in the wall between the older section and the addition, he said; firefighters had to open that wall up to the roof. 

The firefighters “slowly and methodically made sure we got the fire out, as we moved through it,” Dempsey said, “while doing as little damage to the house as possible.” 

Firefighters had to break open walls to put out fires and to make sure fires were out, he said, but they also were careful about making sure that each decision they made was the best one for the situation. 

Dempey estimated that crews began doing cleanup and overhaul starting at 9 or 9:30 a.m., and that the last crews left at about 10 or 10:30 a.m. 

Fort Hunter, Guilderland Center, Altamont, McKownville, North Bethlehem, and Rotterdam District 2 all helped to fight the fire, Dempsey said, and the Midway, Knox, and Carman departments were all on standby for the town. The town’s fire-investigation team and emergency medical services were on the scene, he said. 

According to Albany County assessment rolls, the home on 2.47 acres is owned by Lisa J. Mahoney and has a full market value of $277,000. 


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