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Residents lucky to be alive after Watervliet fire destroys apartment building

WATERVLIET -- An early morning fire destroys several buildings at the Fenimore Trace Apartments in Watervliet. The fire started just after 3:30 Friday morning. six people had to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation, one woman we're told suffered burns. According to fire officials, residents were hanging out windows yelling to be rescued.

Officials say the fire started on the third floor, and there were working smoke detectors in the building. However, there were no sprinkler systems in place because the building was constructed in the early 1970's. Building 12 was completely destroyed, and building 11 was severely damaged.

David Lombardo lives in apartment 12 E, right below where the fire started. He says he woke up in the middle of the night to a strange odor.

"I called 911, I said 'please come over here, and check in the welfare of the residents that live here.' I didn't know if somebody maybe has something cooking or something, Dispatch said they would send someone over right away."

Fire crews arrived within minutes.

"We had a real life threatening situation. The guys worked real hard in a fire. Life comes first. We got the people out," Watervliet Fire Chief, Scott Skinner tells us.

A total of 24 units were destroyed. The Red Cross is assisting those who were affected by the blaze. No word yet on how the fire started. It remains under investigation.