Wind-fueled fire destroys home, neighbor rescues dogs


RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Investigators are still looking into what sparked a fire that destroyed a home in Rensselaer Tuesday morning. The flames quickly spread from the front of the first floor at 24 Broadway, up and out the back. Firefighters said one woman was upstairs at the time the fire broke out, but that she was able to safely escape.

While firefighters were en route, quick-thinking neighbor, Mike Masias, sprang into action without giving it a second thought. He grabbed his garden house to put water on the flames. “I was coming out to go to work at about 9:00 a.m. and one of the neighbors over here was yelling that there was a fire. I called my partner, screamed to him to call 911. Then I got my garden hose from out in the back of the house to try to at least put something there, better than nothing,” said Masias.

Once firefighters arrived, he ran to get his own two pitbulls out of the house. That’s when he said he realized his neighbors weren’t home and their animals were trapped inside, so he broke in through the back to get them out. He said he put them in his back shed to keep them safe and then called his neighbors and suggested they come home. “We go on vacation, they go on vacation, and we watch each others homes. We didn’t have a number we always did it through e-mail, but about 2 weeks ago Phil and I said listen, we need your numbers. Then this happens,” said Masias.

Director of Rensselaer County Public Safety, Jay Wilson, said one firefighter was taken to the hospital for dehydration and heat exhaustion. A neighbor was also treated for difficulty breathing. “I mean it’s kind of hard when you see your house burning, right? So she probably just got a little excited and hopefully she’ll be fine, as will the firefighter they took to the hospital,” said Wilson.

Despite a lack of manpower and a complex interior layout, firefighters were able to keep the flames contained to the one building. “During the day, people who do volunteer, work full time jobs that provide for their family. It’s not just Rensselaer, it’s a national thing. There’s a shortage when it comes to staffing volunteers especially during the day,” said Josh Davenport, a Rensselaer firefighter.

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