Blaze Leaves 11 Laurens Residents Homeless

Chief Justin Hill of the Laurens Fire Department this morning surveys the scene of the Thursday afternoon fire in the Village of Laurens. (Ian Austin/

By IAN AUSTIN • Special to

LAURENS – It took off like a house on fire.

“I got called in at 4:30,” Fire Chief Justin Hill recounted today, the morning after flames ripped through a village home at dusk Thursday afternoon.  “I was driving from West Oneonta and I could already see the column of smoke.”

Ten fire departments were called to help battle the blaze that gutted three apartments at 39 Main St., across the street from the fire department.

“The fire started on the second floor in the rear,” said Hill, surveying the smoking ruins. “The layout of the building made it very difficult to attack the fire. We entered through the back door but there was so much fire in the stairs we couldn’t get up them.  That’s when we knew we had to go at it from the exterior.”

The call was put out for the the aerial truck from Oneonta. Power was shut off to most of the village once the aerial arrived so it could safely maneuver over power lines.

Eventually, the fire was so deep inside the house crews could not reach it; with the exterior walls of the building becoming unstable, an excavator from Seward Sand & Gravel was brought in to bring them down, Hill said.

Support crews made sure to keep a nearby kerosene tank and the adjacent building under heavy water to prevent the fire from spreading.  Neighboring 41 Main did receive minor damage and loss of power, but no homes were lost.  Crews cleared from the scene around 11:30 p.m.

While the building is a total loss, the 11 people living there made it out safely with no reported injuries.

Otsego County coordinators from the Office of Emergency Services are looking into the cause the blaze, the worst the village has seen in over a decade. “We had a fire in this building four years ago from a faulty heater in the basement.” said Hill. “But this fire is still under investigation.”



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