Fire ruled intentional, Red Cross goes to work

The fire at a Utica apartment complex that displaced hundreds of people ten days ago was intentionally set, firefighters say.

But mroe than a week later, people are still adjusting to new living situations. The Red Cross has been helping, since nearly an hour after the fire started. Officials there say they're always ready for disaster situations, helping out roughly half of the people who live at 1431 Genesee Street.

"We prepare for emergencies of this size, and we have the materials and resources and also the volunteers, trained and ready to respond," said Diann Fischer of the Red Cross.

She says people have been allowed back into the building to check on pets, which continue to stay there. Still, she says it's very difficult for people to adjust to living in a shelter.

"Your needs have to fit underneath a cot, so it's been much than just an inconvenience, it's a disruption of their life," she said.

The Red Cross says it's anticipating good news later this week. It'll be shutting down shelters Wednesday at noon, which is when people are expected to return to their apartments. This as city officials continue to work with the property's landlord to make sure everything is up to code.

The investigation into the fire is ongoing.


Friday, September 17, 2010, at 6:30AM, Utica firefighters responded to 1431 Genesee St., the Olbiston Apartments, for a structure fire.Investigators determined that the fire originated in the freight elevator on the first floor and extended up the elevator shaft consuming elevator wiring and components in the shaft.Fire and water damage was confined to the elevator car and shaft but severe smoke damage was reported throughout the building and the building has now been posted as 'unsafe'.Occupants of the building will not be allowed to reside in the building until the smoke and soot have been removed, the electrical damage has been repaired and the fire alarm is in service.City of Utica officials and the property owner and manager are working together to establish what requirements need to be met in order for the building to be re-occupied.Since the incident, fire investigations have evaluated the physical evidence and testimonial evidence of building occupants and have determined that the fire was intentionally set.Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, no further information will be released.Information courtesy of the City of Utica, Bureau of Fire.