Officials probe fire’s cause

GLOVERSVILLE – Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that leveled a barn and garage on Bleecker Street and damaged neighboring houses Thursday, city Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam said.

The fire, which witnesses said began around 9:45 a.m., started in a barn behind 191 Bleecker St., creating a large plume of dark smoke.

Whitman-Putnam said her department was dispatched around 9:53 a.m.

“When I opened the door to the station and saw the smoke, I knew it wasn’t going to be good,” the chief said at the scene.

According to the Fire Department, the structure was an 8,364-square-foot, three-story wood-frame building.

Firefighters tried to contain the spread of fire and protect several adjacent structures while other personnel searched and evacuated multiple residences near the fire, the chief said.

Whitman-Putnam said the barn was destroyed along with a nearby garage behind 195 Bleecker St.

An adjacent structure received moderate fire damage on the sides facing the barn.

The chief said eight residences received damage to vinyl siding, and several windows in buildings broke because of the heat from the fire.

Some of the houses at the back side of the barn’s property had a significant space buffer, including houses along the Rail Trail, Cayadutta Creek and North Arlington Avenue, but the siding on some houses was unable to withstand the heat.

The barn collapsed during the blaze. Multiple explosions could be heard from the fire.

After the fire was put out, Whitman-Putnam said, the city Department of Public Works went to the scene with an excavator to remove debris and tear down remaining unsafe parts of the barn.

The Ambulance Service of Fulton County was on hand into the afternoon checking the health of firefighters who were visibly exhausted from humidity and the heat of the fire. One firefighter was transported to Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, treated and released, the chief said.

The owner of the barn and house at 191 Bleecker St., Everett Flint, said he was unaware the barn was in flames until he heard commotion outside.

“I heard some noise and sirens, so I looked out my front window and saw the back end of the fire truck,” Flint said. “I came outside to see what was going on, and a neighbor pointed to my barn, so I looked, and at that point, it was up in flames.”

He said the structure dates back to the 1700s and later was brought to the Bleecker Street site. He primarily used the barn for storage of furniture, wood, insulation and tools. Flint said he always kept the barn locked.

Flint said the barn had no electricity running to it, so he doesn’t think the cause of the fire is related to any electrical problem.

The garage of neighbor Danielle Ruby, of 195 Bleecker St., also was destroyed in the fire.

She was at work at the time of the fire but rushed home after neighbors contacted her.

Ruby said the garage contained primarily tools, a snow blower and other yard equipment.

She said the Fire Department sprayed water on her house to keep the fire from spreading to the house. Some water did go inside her house, she said.

Neighbors at the fire scene took pictures and video of the flames as local fire departments tried to contain the blaze.

“It didn’t take long for it to go up at all,” Dean Fisher Sr. of Bleecker Street said at the scene.

Whitman-Putnam said the Johnstown and Amsterdam fire departments were called to the scene for the use of their ladder trucks. The Berkshire Volunteer Fire Department was requested to stand by at the Gloversville Fire Department to respond to additional calls as needed.

Gloversville police were on the scene to help with crowd and traffic control.

Levi Pascher can be reached at lpascher@leaderherald.com.