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Falling bricks led to emergency teardown of 3-story building

SCHENECTADY, NY (WRGB )-- An old three-story building on Schenectady and Strong streets saw its’ demise Thursday.

Vinod Jagneth owns the auto shop right next door.

“The building was falling apart,” Jagneth said.

The demolition might never have happened if a firefighter hadn't noticed a big problem. The final straw came Wednesday when bricks started falling onto the street below, luckily missing any cars or people.

Even more debris came down later. 11-year-old Dylan Huba says he saw it on a walk with his grandmother.

“I just saw one brick fall out of nowhere, and it was really windy,” Huba said.

A half hour after the firefighter noticed the debris, the fire chief tells me city officials called an emergency meeting, brought a building inspector in, and decided to have the building torn down as soon as possible. Work began at 8am Thursday.

Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal says firemen and police barricaded the nearby roads standing watch to make sure pedestrians didn’t come in harms way.

“We have the whole building secured in case it does collapse,” Senecal said.

City of Schenectady Director of Operations David Fronk says the building has been vacant for years. One of a few hundred buildings owned by the city through re-possession. Fronk says eight other nearby homes in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood are scheduled for demolition in the coming weeks, including the one right across the street, but he says this building wasn't on the demo list.

“We have city staff that go around to our properties on a regular basis doing maintenance, making sure they’re boarded up and safe,” Fronk said.

Fronk says the Schenectady Street building hadn't appeared to pose a threat until this week.

“It’s only when we have an imminent risk that we do an emergency demolition like this,” Fronk said.

The historic Nicholaus building which came down in an emergency situation like this a couple weeks ago, was torn down in just six hours. Fronk says it’s rare to have two emergency demolitions in just a matter of weeks.

The building at the intersection of Strong and Schenectady is expected to be totaled by the end of the day Thursday. Fronk says the land there will be put up for sale by the city.


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