Saugerties community in mourning after deadly fire

Local

Multiple fire and law enforcement crews responded to a major structure fire in Saugerties involving multiple buildings, Saugerties Police says.

“It was horrible the whole house was on fire. I looked out the window and it was like something out of a movie it was terrible,” said neighbor, Kristen Degroat.

A firefighter at the scene told NEWS10 ABC that at least one person was killed in the fire that broke out early Saturday morning on Russell Street. Neighbor said it was a mother who died, and multiple children lived in the three apartments.

Several people were taken to the Albany Medical Center and Northern Dutchess Hospital with injuries. Officials could not specify how many people were injuried or the extent of their injuries.

“The building house three apartments it also affected the neighboring building at the 22 Russel Street and that’s also in the form of building a house houses two apartments,” said Chris Worrad, Deputy Fire Coordinator of Ulster County Emergency Management.

Saugerties Police, New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriff’s Department, and multiple fire and emergency crews are responding.

“Ten of them (people) were transported to hospitals with some smoke inhalation and some minor burns,” Worrad said. 

One person did not make it out alive from the fire.

“Who the person is, that’s also being determined whether it’s male or female at this time. Like I say it’s all in the preliminary stages. The investigators cannot even make an attempt to make entry into the building until the building is stabilized,” Worrad said.

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Mayor of the village of Saugerties, Bill Murphy, said the neighborhood is very close knit and this will undoubtedly be a devastating loss for the community.

“Anytime there’s a loss in a community it’s hard. Right now I have a pit in my stomach not even knowing who the person was,” Murphy said.

Taylor Mawyin witnessed it all unfold as well and couldn’t believe her eyes. She watched the building engulfed in flames and tried to help however she could; after seeing a little girl between 7 and 10 bleeding and covered in soot.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life before and I never thought I would ever have to like experience that,” Mawyin said. “The little girl was bleeding. I helped her. I gave her paper towels. I tried the best that I could to help them all.” 

A man who lived at the bottom apartment showed her his hands with his skin gone. Mawyin said the man stated his son was also badly injured.

“I asked them if they were ok and the guy just showed me his hands like this and skin was just, his skin was just gone, it was just flesh on his hands,” Mawyin said.

Now she is hoping all the victims can find a way to heal.

“I just hope that they can reconnect and you know find their family again and just be happy you know, like that’s all they really can do from here on out, is just find themselves and become happy again,” Mawyin said.

At this time officials are not releasing the names or ages of the victims, but friends said the person who died not only was a mother, but a grandmother as well.

“What bothers me is, what were her last thoughts and how scared she must have been,” said Dina Nilsen, a longtime friend of the victim.

NIlsen is still trying to process what happened earlier Saturday, when her friend of more than 20 years died in the house fire.

“She was great. She would do anything for anybody, always had a smile on her face,” Nilsen said.

She was loved by many in the community including Bonnie North and was devoted to her daughters and grandkids.

“It’s very sad that this had to happen to such a young girl, and a young mother, young grandmother,” North said.

Mawyin, Nilsen and North hope people can recover with a little help from the community.

“I think they’ll pull through. I think they’re all going to be okay,” Nilsen said.

The 10 victims were transported to various hospitals in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley. At least one of them was flown to Westchester’s Burn Center.

Currently, there is no word on their conditions.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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