Photo: Martin E. Miller/Special To The Times Union
ALBANY — Investigators have determined that last month’s Quail Street blaze, which displaced 50 people, was an accidental grease fire caused by cooking, Albany Fire Chief Joseph Gregory told the Times Union on Wednesday.
The fire was one of three that occurred between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. In total the fires displaced 80 people and destroyed 13 buildings. The other two fires remain under investigation.
Firefighters were called to Quail Street, on Sept. 30, around 4:40 a.m.
The Quail Street blaze, which destroyed six buildings, displaced 32 adults and 18 children.
Gregory said fire investigators have determined that the grease fire began on the second floor of 176 Quail St. when someone was cooking.
“They threw water on the grease fire, to try to put it out, which is a big no-no,” Gregory said. “That creates a greater flame. If you have a grease fire you should try to cover it with a pot or pan to take the oxygen away.”
At the time, firefighters were also battling a blaze on Sheridan Avenue, about a mile away.
That fire, which started at 334 Sheridan Ave., displaced 18 adults and nine children and destroyed six buildings.
“The cause is still being investigated,” Gregory said. “The collapse of the building has been hindering the investigation.”
Less than 30 hours later, on Oct. 1, the fire department was called to a third large fire, this time on Colonial Avenue, at around 6:40 a.m.
By the time firefighters arrived, the house was fully in flames. The blaze caused the second and first floors to collapse into a basement garage, though firefighters had evacuated before it caved in. Three people were displaced.
The cause is still being investigated.
“We are very confident that none of the fires were connected,” Gregory said.
A total of 13 buildings were destroyed and 80 people displaced, but only one person was injured and there were no deaths.
Gregory said a major reason no one else was injured was because neighbors notified each other of the flames and helped one another quickly evacuate.
“It is important for people who live in multi-family residencies, to not ignore fire alarms,” Gregory said. “Evacuate the building and call for help right away.”
Gregory had three other pieces of advice for residents to follow when it comes to fires — Look, listen and learn. The phrase is the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, taking place now through Saturday.
“Look around your house and see if there are any fire hazards,” Gregory said. “Look for frayed wires or papers and boxes around furnaces.”
“Listen and check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors,” Gregory said. “If you hear a fire alarm go off then get out of the building.”
“Third, learn a second way out of your building and set a meeting point,” Gregory said. “These three things can help save lives.”