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[UPDATE] Teen Rescued From Congers House Heavily Damaged By Fire

Floor collapses, briefly trapping two volunteer firefighters.

UPDATE: 3 p.m. Monday, May 7, 2012 - Clarkstown police say they have determined Sunday morning's fire in Congers was an accident. However, the Clarkstown Fire Inspector's Office continues its probe of the blaze.

Tragedy was averted twice early Sunday morning at a house in Congers, where a fire spread from the basement, trapping a teenager, and then undermined a section of floor which collapsed under the feet to two volunteer firefighters.

A Clarkstown police officer and a 17-year-old resident of 54 N. Conger Ave. were taken to Nyack Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously injured in the fast-moving fire that heavily damaged the three-story, two-family house, according to police and fire officials.

In an update late this morning, Clarkstown police said the town officer was treated and later released from the hospital.

More than 75 volunteer firefighters spent two hours fighting the fire and several firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries at the fire scene, according to Congers Fire Chief Michael Shields.

The fire was discovered around 1:30 a.m. at the home at the corner of North Conger Avenue and Howard Street, about three blocks north of Lake Road. Shields said that residents of one apartment in the house were able to get out safely, but that the teenager in the other apartment could not get out on his own.

Clarkstown police said when a town officer arrived at the house he went inside and was able to get the 17-year-old out through the rear of the home.

“When I got here I could hear someone yelling for help from inside the house,” said Shields.

Shields said it appears the fire started in the basement and quickly spread upstairs in the home. The fire got into exterior walls of the home and firefighters had to cut open the walls to expose hidden flames. Using two tower ladders – one from Congers and the other from Haverstraw – firefighters also cut into the roof of the house to fight the blaze.

While inside the house, a Congers firefighter and a Valley Cottage firefighter found themselves briefly trapped when a section of floor on the first floor of the house collapsed. Shields said the firefighters were caught in the structure of the floor and were quickly pulled out by other volunteer firefighters.

Shields said neither firefighter was seriously injured in the collapse. Valley Cottage Fire Chief Howard Gerber said the Valley Cottage firefighter involved in the collapse was soon back helping with the firefighting effort after he was checked out by emergency medical personnel.

By about 3:30 a.m., the fire was extinguished, leaving a gaping hole in the south side of the house and extensive damage throughout the structure. Clarkstown fire inspectors were at the fire conducting an investigation.

Shields said the Congers Fire Department was assisted by volunteers from New City, Haverstraw, West Haverstraw and Valley Cottage, with volunteers from West Nyack on standby in case of other emergencies. Members of Congers-Valley Cottage Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Rockland Paramedics were at the scene to assist injured firefighters.

Matt Foley May 07, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Yes, the firemen are a great asset to the community, but in this fire, it was a CPD officer who went in, with no "back up" and brought out the kid. Where are the kudos for him? Just because he gets paid for what he did, doesn't make it any less heroic. God bless them as well. They are the best at what they do.
Shannon May 08, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I agree, great job to the Clarkstown Officer
J P May 08, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Cops should stay out of burning buildings. They are not properly trained and could get seriously hurt or killed.
J P May 08, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I've seen this many times before, I've seen police officers get seriously injured by taking these risks. It is with great valor and bravery that they do this , however the consequences could be deadly. Point is , if they become overcome by smoke, or injured in any way and can't get out, when the fireman arrive, they have two people to rescue instead of one. Just some insight from my experience as a 25 plus year veteran to the fire service.
Thomas Doyle May 09, 2012 at 06:46 PM
JP, Your statements are either ignorant or disingenuous. Stating the obvious, that they take action "with great valor and bravery", does not give any more credibility to your preposterous notion that the officers should have waited outside and ignored the calls for help. Also, you have not "seen this many times before" because incidents of police officers being seriously injured or requiring rescue are, thankfully, extremely rare. Police officers in Rockland receive training in how to deal with fires at the Rockland County Police Academy. The instruction is done in conjunction with the Fire Training Academy. Here in Rockland, there exists a very good relationship between the local police and the selfless volunteers that comprise our local fire departments. Many police officers and dispatchers also serve their communities as volunteer firefighters. The police and fire personnel did an excelent job here, and other than needing to sound self-important, there is no reason for you to criticize anyone's actions. I also think you might have a different set of instructions for the officers if that were your child calling for help. Just some insight from my experience as a 20 plus year veteran of the police department.

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