COHOES, N.Y. - The Route 32 bridge from Waterford to Cohoes reopened Friday morning after demolition of Shelter Enterprises wrapped up.
At 10 a.m. Friday, the Department of Labor's Rapid Response Team will be at the Cohoes City Hall signing up employees of Shelter Enterprises for unemployment.
Demolition of the manufacturing company continued throughout the night, and bridge remained closed until Friday at 5:00 a.m. until demolition at Shelter Enterprises was completed.
The fire at Shelter Enterprises Inc, a business that produces foam insulation materials, located on Saratoga Street/Route 32, in Cohoes.
Several fire crews were active on scene since just after midnight Thursday, watching over the fire with the fear of the building collapsing due to the old wooden structure. The building was built in 1876.
Fire crews also faced problems putting out the fire as some products they produce - styrofoam, plastics and other home building materials - are extremely flamable. "A few times we tried to back away from certain positions and we saw it flare back up," Capt. Will Charbenneau describes of the fire.
Employees along with the owner of Shelter Enterprise, Jeff Myers, were present at the scene of the fire, devastated by what they were seeing.
Robert Gamache has worked at Shelter Enterprises for eight years and his dad has worked there for more than 20 years. All they could do is watch in disbelief as the flames swallowed a major part of the old mill building. "Obviously we are here for a reason. We care about this place. Just want to get back to work" added Gamanche.
"It's kind of hard to explain, but without here we don't have jobs. We all have families to take care of at home so hopefully we can get this place back up and running again soon," Gamache said.
"This is a devastating fire. As he said to me, it was the heart of his manufacturing was exactly where the fire was," Cohoes Mayor John McDonald said. "[Myers] is already coordinating. He's got room up in the back. We were able to save a good 2/3 of his structure so he's going to relocate his offices, relocate some of his manufacturing components in that area."
Myers says he wants to rebuild his business as soon as possible. There are about 40 employees that work for Shelter Enterprises, which has been at that location since the 1980s.
"We still have to evaluate what's going on," Myers said. "The fire is still burning actually so we really can't make a strong evaluation but we're still going to work forward and get back to work here."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
I-787 from Ontario Street to New Cortland Street has reopened as well.
The City of Cohoes says due to the fire, residents should be aware that water pressure may be lower than normal and are being asked to practice water conservation when possible. Residents should also be aware that water may be discolored over the next 48 hours. While the water is still safe for consumption, residents are advised to check their running water before doing laundry.
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