Firefighters handle early morning emergencies

ALBANY — A pair of early morning calls kept the Albany Fire Department busy as firefighters dealt with a gas leak situation before getting a call to fight a structure fire.

Officials of the AFD say firefighters arrived at 1603 Smith Circle about 1:50 a.m. Friday in response to a possible natural gas leak situation. In a written report, AFD relief driver Jason Hancock stated that the sound of leaking gas was heard by firefighters at the rear of the building. Upon investigation, it was discovered that a tree limb had fallen during the night and caused the leak

According to Hancock’s report, a decision was made to evacuate approximately 36 people from 16 houses within a 200-yard radius of the leak. Representatives of the Water, Gas & Light Commission were notified of the situation and firefighters equipped with breathing masks and full protective gear were able to turn off the gas at the meter.

While firefighters were on the scene for about two hours, residents were allowed back into their homes after 30-45 minutes, AFD officials said.

Barely two hours following the natural gas emergency, firefighters received a call to a structure fire in progress. At 4:02 a.m., units of the AFD arrived at 317 Station Crossing Drive to address the blaze.

According to a report by Brandon Senn, AFD relief driver, the fire team met with heavy smoke coming from the residence. Senn stated that with the use of some 3,000 gallons of water, firefighters had controlled the blaze within 20 minutes. While no injuries were reported in the incident, the 36-year-old resident of the structure stated to firefighters that she and her two teenage sons would be displaced by the fire. The local American Red Cross chapter was notified, Senn stated.

One of the teenage residents later admitted to having been cooking on the stove just before the fire and may have fallen asleep, officials said.

Fire Chief James Carswell later noted that about 45 percent of local structure fires are caused by careless cooking.