SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A massive fire that began in a house on Woodlawn Avenue in Saratoga Springs just after 4 a.m. Sunday has left more than 30 people homeless.
The American Red Cross arrived on scene at approximately 7 a.m. to assist residents on the scene. They later set up a shelter at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue to provide food and temporary housing for the approximately 32 people who have been displaced by the fire, many of whom residents who work at the Saratoga Race Course. There were approximately 16 residents home at the time of the fire and they were all evacuated without injury.
Gary Williams, a resident who lost his home Sunday, said he was working at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway when he received the news of the fire.
"I got a phone call around four o'clock that there was a fire at 104 Woodlawn and when I got there, the blaze was just tremendous," he said. "I lost half my clothes, my ties, my shoes and some of my hats."
The Saratoga Springs Police Department Emergency Dispatch Center received a call from a tenant at 108 Woodlawn Avenue reporting a structure fire. When fire and police units arrived within minutes of being dispatched, they found 108 and 106 Woodlawn Avenue to be fully engulfed in flames.
A short time later a mutual aid call drew the assistance of the Greenfield and Malta Ridge fire departments. By 5:30 a.m., 100, 102 and 104 Woodlawn Avenue had also become engulfed by the fire.
The height of the blaze came at approximately 6 a.m., at which point nearly 100 firefighters and 15 fire trucks were on the scene. It was at that point that the middle and rear portions of 108 and 106 Woodlawn collapsed and firefighters were being ordered out of the buildings. They continued to work to control the fire from multiple angles and with two aerial ladder trucks in the front and rear of the buildings.
It wasn't until five hours after the call had come in that Fire Chief Robert Williams was able to declare the fire to be under control, though still not out.
Nearly 100 firefighters battled the flames that tore through four row homes on Woodlawn Avenue. In order to extinguish the hot spots in their entirety, crews were on the scene for more than 12 hours. Three Firefighters were transported to Saratoga Hospital and treated for heat and smoke related issues. All three have since been released.
Representatives from NYRA took many of the workers for dinner at the track Sunday and are also trying to help them find new housing.
The Assembly of God Church, on Van Dam Street, neighboring residence and local businesses helped provide food, water and supplies to the displaced residents and EMS personnel.
W.J. Morris Excavation was called to work throughout the night to take down the unstable structures of 106 and 108 Woodlawn Avenue.
Woodlawn Ave from Church Street to Van Dam and Van Dam Street from Broadway to Clinton Street will remain closed until further notice.
The Saratoga County Cause and Origin Team is working closely with fire and police investigators to determine the cause of the blaze, which was still unknown Sunday evening.
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