WYNANTSKILL, N.Y. -- Fire crews across the region responded to a number of small fire calls that were reported to have been started by lightning in Tuesday's storm.
The Wynantskill Fire Department believes lightning struck the back roof of a home in Rensselaer County, starting a fire that destroyed the residence overnight.
The fire started at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday at a residence located at 55 Route 150. By the time fire crews arrived at the scene, after the first call came in shortly after it started, the flames had engulfed nearly the entire house. Fire crews remained on the scene battling the flames until nearly 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The fire seemed to be extinguished by 5:30 a.m. as crews began to leave the scene. Before investigators arrived, the fire sparked back up just two hours later.
One woman was inside the building, which was formerly Old Foley's Inn, at the time the fire started. The 88-year-old resident, Mary Foley, had lived on the second floor for more than 60 years. She was able to escape the home uninjured, but by 7:30 a.m. she was having trouble breathing and was transported to the hospital for treatment. She is expected to be okay.
Her nephew Ed Foley lives next door to the family business. He said the storm woke him up overnight, but what scared him more was the site of his family's home, and one-time business, up in flames.
"It's the end of an era. Almost all of my family had something to do with the bar as they grew up so it's sad to see the building go," Ed Foley said.
Neighbors said there was heavy lightning in the area at the same time the fire broke out. Twice during the storm, firefighters were forced to stop working because of lightning.
"We got hit twice with thunderstorms and had to stop firefighting while the storm blew over," The Wynantskill Assistant Chief said.
The Assistant Chief also said the building design made it difficult to extinguish.
"It was an old business, it was an old bar, so it was broken up into several different apartments so the fire was in different spots and it was tough to get a handle on it," he said.
The home has been deemed a total loss and will likely be torn down.
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