Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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Second fire at Franklin Street home in two days considered suspicious

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Albany/HV: Second fire at Franklin Street home in two days considered suspicious
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Kingston firefighters return to a home catching fire for a second time in three days. While the cause has not been determined for the first incident, this fire is believed to be suspicious. YNN's John Wagner has more.

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Kingston firemen spent hours knocking out a fierce Franklin street blaze on Saturday night. A repeat alarm Monday morning raises suspicions.

"Obviously the first thing you're thinking about is this is not accidental," said John Reinhardt, City of Kingston Fire Chief.

First responders are forced to take down a larger fire at the same address. The Kingston chief doesn't think the first flames were intense enough to reignite on it's own.

"My professional opinion is that after two days there's no way the fire was still smoldering," Reinhardt said.

When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out windows and flying through the roof so no one was sent inside. It took about three hours to extinguish what became a three alarm burn."

"This one was a lot bigger because the flames were actually out the windows," said Lavelle Stackhouse, a neighbor.

"First time it wasn't that bad. This time, it was really in flames. I mean, you could see the smoke, the redness, the fire going up in the air," said Ellen Vandyke, neighbor.

This time, no one was injured and the surrounding buildings were protected, but Monday's fire left evidence that still existed for Saturday's flames, up in smoke.

The chief says no one had been allowed inside the building and the electric, the boilers, and water heater were not working.

"Basically, the only other cause of the fire is it was intentionally set or accidentally set," Reinhardt said.

Officers were extra careful Monday morning, knowing that the building was treacherous. On Saturday, two firefighters searching for victims were injured jumping to safety.

"The roof was covered with ice and snow, they slid just like a sliding board right off the roof," Reinhardt said.

One officer damaged his wrist and will likely need more than six months to recover. The other suffered a collapsed lung and is expected to return in a few weeks.

Every lead, including accelerants, will be checked out. Neighbors say anything is possible.

"There coulda been somebody in there maybe doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, maybe a homeless person and it caught on fire, you never know," said Vandyke.

The roof and the structure is so badly damaged, the building may be torn down in a matter of days, making a full investigation impossible.

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