B y Derek Liebig
A local woman died and a man was seriously injured after a fire broke out in their apartment building Sunday evening. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
The identity of the woman who perished in the fire at 120 Broadway is being withheld pending DNA analysis. Her body was burned beyond recognition, but police said they have little reason to believe it was anybody other than the person who resided there.
Several residents identified the victim as Tina Greene, 45.
It’s believed that Greene died from smoke inhalation but an official cause of death won’t be determined until autopsy results are released.
Albert Choppy, 47, who lived with Greene, suffered burns to 16 percent of his body and was taken to the burn center at Westchester County Medical Center after being evaluated at Glens Falls Hospital.
There were four other apartment units in the building, which housed 11 people, but no additional injuries were reported.
The Adirondack-Saratoga Chapter of the American Red Cross provided assistance to the displaced residents Monday.
According to Brian Brooks, Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company deputy chief for special operations, the fire started in the northeast of the corner around 8:30 p.m. and emergency crews were dispatched immediately.
Police Sgt. Richard LaChapelle was the first to arrive on scene and found the second story of the building in flames.
During the fire, several residents reported that two of the buildings occupants were unaccounted for.
Police attempted to gain access to the building but heavy smoke and fire coming from the point of access prevented their entry.
“It was a rolling fire,” Brooks said.
Once fire crews arrived, they were able get in through the rear of the building.
After they entered the building, they found an unconscious man (Choppy) who was pulled out to a back porch and given CPR, Brooks said.
Upon reentering the building, they found the other victim, who had already died.
Brooks said crews were able to get the fire knocked down quickly.
“It took about 10 minutes,” he said.
Crews remained on scene, working on the buildings interior for a couple of hours.
The fire appears to have started in the victims’ apartment but an exact cause remains under investigation.
Police said other apartments in the building suffered smoke and water damage but the brunt of the fire appears to have been located in the victims’ apartment. Police chief Matt Dickinson said a small efficiency apartment adjacent to the victims’ apartment suffered little fire damage.
Brooks said he believed the building could still be saved, but added that it would require extensive rehab.
Besides the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company, assistance was provided on-scene by the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company, and the Fort Ann Fire Department provided backup for the WVFC at their station.
The fire is being investigated by the Whitehall Police and Fire, the Washington County Sheriff’s Bureau of Fire, and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.
The fire was the second such fatal event in the community in as many months.
On April 6, a fire claimed the life of Richard “Dick” Hannah at his home at 9338 State Route 4.