Third alarm bowling alley fire with a backdraft and mayday in Troy, NY, US
On 8 May 2019 at 9h44, the City of Troy’s Fire Department was dispatched for an alarm of fire at Alpha Lanes at 326 5th Avenue. The dispatcher stated they were receiving multiple calls of heavy black smoke coming from the roof and windows of the building. Engine one transmitted the signal 30 from the station and car four transmitted the second alarm right after. The first arriving police unit on scene had a working structure fire and requested multiple police units to the scene. Police units assisted the store owner on the other side by removing all of the propane tanks from the side of the building.
Fire fighters immediately started to conduct an aggressive interior attack with a 2 1/2 inch hand line to try to knock down as much heavy fire as they could. The department of public utilities was doing fire hydrant flushing nearby and fire fighters were not getting the appropriate pressure to feed the apparatus on scene. Police had the department of public utilities stopped and closed all of the hydrants up. As the battalion chief arrived on scene he did a 360 degree check of the building and had heavy black smoke pushing from the centre of the building and the eaves of the roof in the rear.
A large amount of powerlines caught fire in the rear of the building and came down in the alleyway. As fire fighters were attempting to make an interior attack, command immediately pulled them from the building as the heavy black smoke bank down to the street level making it near impossible to see and had heavy fire blowing through the centre of the building. As fire fighters were evacuating the building the front windows of the bowling alley exploded and a violent backdraft occurred sending glass and heavy smoke and fire over thirty feet in to the street at police and fire fighters.
A fire fighter from engine one declared a mayday and Chief McMahon took control of the scene and held the air on the radio so they could figure out what was going on and where the down fire fighter was. The fire fighter that called the mayday was able to escape the building. Heavy fire violently rolled out of every portion of the front of the building. As fire fighters stretched multiple hand lines and switched to a master streams operation placing multiple truck companies into the air and command requested the third alarm.
Command requested the nearest truck company from Watervliet to the scene in the rear of the building as they had major exposure issues and a secondary exposure that had caught fire. Fire fighters from Watervliet, Cohoes, Green Island and the city of Albany assisted fire fighters on scene. As fire fighters were conducting master stream operations in the bucket of the truck company, fire fighters completely disappeared into the blacked out sky from the heavy smoke of all of the oil soaked floors burning in the bowling alley.
Fire fighters had heavy fire pushing out into the street at the nearby apparatus and firefighters used the hand lines on to the apparatus to prevent them from catching fire as the heat could be felt up to twenty feet from the building. As fire fighters were trying to knock down the heavy fire the centre of the building collapsed, sending a large plume of fire and smoke into the air. Dozens of onlookers watched in disbelief as one of the cities icons in Lansingburgh went up in smoke.
As fire fighters began to knock down the heavy fire they switch their attention to the two nearby buildings that were separated by about two feet. Fire fighters placed a large master stream in between the bowling alley and the furniture store on the north end and fire fighters on the south side placed another two and half inch hand line in between the bowling alley and the hardware store. As fire fighters were starting to knock down the heavy fire the front wall of the building collapsed out words narrowly missing one of the fire fighters operating a hand line and bricks bounced off of truck one.
As fire fighters in the rear were operating when the front wall collapsed the rear wall pushed out and collapsed in front of the Watervliet truck Company. Fire fighters continued to conduct master stream operations until the late afternoon and were able to bring the fire under control just after noon. The city of Albany’s Fire Department with ambulances from the town of Colonie remained in the city of Troy and took all calls while fire fighters remained on scene as they had extensive overhaul. No fire fighters were injured on scene and the cause of the fire is under investigation at this time.
Source: Sidewinder Photography