Four killed in early morning house fire outside Albany

An early morning house fire killed four people, including a 5-year-old girl, in New Scotland, N.Y., outside Albany, on Saturday, officials said.

A 14-year-old boy survived the fire and jumped to safety from a second-story window as the fire engulfed the house, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said. He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

Officials have not yet identified those who were killed, but they confirmed that a 35-year-old man died along with his young daughter; his uncle, 64; and his 40-year-old girlfriend.

“It’s very upsetting,” said Timothy Cavanaugh, the Albany County coroner. “I’ve been doing this for 36 years and this is one of the worst I can remember.”

The fire broke out at 64 Normanskill Road in New Scotland, a small community about 7 miles west of Albany, the sheriff said. The address is linked to a company called Circle Tree Farmwhich has been owned by the same family for generations, according to one GoFundMe post from January.

The sheriff’s office was alerted to the fire around 5:15 a.m. when a woman called 911 in “great distress,” Mr. Apple in a telephone interview.

The woman told a dispatcher she was in a bedroom with the 5-year-old girl and they were trapped by “extensive flames” outside the door and an air conditioner mounted in the window, he said. The woman said others were in the two-story house with them, but she was unsure where they were located.

“It was a very horrible 911 call,” said Mr. Apple.

Within minutes, sheriff’s deputies and emergency personnel were at the home, but were unable to enter due to rapidly spreading smoke and fire. Firefighters who arrived soon after also couldn’t find a way into the house, Apple said.

More than a dozen area volunteer fire departments responded to the scene, hauling water and creating portable ponds to fight the blaze, Mr. Apple.

“The heat, they said, it was unbelievable,” he said.

The home also had a tin roof “which kept all the heat in the place,” said Mr. Apple.

Once emergency personnel were able to control the fire, they entered the home and found all four victims dead on the second floor. The cause of the fire was still under investigation early Saturday afternoon, Mr. Apple, and it was unclear if there were smoke alarms in the home.

Autopsies to determine the causes of death of the four victims will be performed on Monday, Mr. Cavanaugh.

The family who had lived in the home had a small garden from which they sold produce and they had also sold firewood there for decades, Mr Apple said. Their deaths have hit the local community hard, he said.

“This one family in particular has lived on that stretch of road for years,” said Mr. Apple, adding, “It’s just a true, true, terrible tragedy.”

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