The cause of the fire, which started in one of the upstairs apartments, was ruled accidental, and village fire chief Anthony Bell said human error was to blame.
Firemen were called to the scene at 7:20 a.m. Bell said that by the time fireman arrived, all residents had already made their way out of the building, and heavy smoke was billowing from it. The fire was completely extinguished by noon.
Both businesses are closed and the apartments have been cleared out. Ed Jabs, the building’s owner, said the building is completely uninhabitable at this time, and it’s unknown when (or if) it will reopen. “Nothing can be occupied right now,” said Jabs. “Even the areas that were not damaged by the fire have been damaged by smoke and water. The future of the building is to be determined.”
It was condemned on Tuesday, and Jabs reports that all utilities have been shut off, and most water lines were melted in the blaze. Insurance adjusters issued opinions on Wednesday morning stating that the building has incurred significant structural damage.
The building had housed a total of ten people — seven adults and three children — in five apartments. The displaced are receiving assistance from the Ulster County Red Cross. The Red Cross has provided the victims with temporary shelter, and financial assistance for food, clothing, and medical supplies.
Terry O’Brien, minister of the Reformed Church of Saugerties, is also working with the Saugerties Area Council of Churches to provide assistance for the families through The Well, a thrift shop and emergency fund managed by the SACC. O’Brien also says his church will provide some needed items to the families, who lost nearly all of their possessions in the fire.
The Saugerties Fire Department was assisted at the scene by Glasco, Centerville Cedar Grove, Mount Marion, Malden West Camp, and Ulster Hose fire companies.
Bell complimented the volunteer firemen who worked throughout the morning, calling the operation a “nice save,” in that they did not allow the building to be completely destroyed. Bell said the building is structurally sound, but will need extensive repairs before it can be inhabited. Though no tenants were injured in the fire, two firemen were transported to Kinston Hospital, where they were treated and released. One fireman suffered a minor shoulder injury, while another was treated as a precaution for an accelerated heart rate, according to Bell.