City firefighters extinguish small apartment fire

Deputy Fire Chief Richard Allen photographs damage after an apartment fire Friday at 13 Church Street.

City firefighters responded to a small apartment fire about 6 p.m. Friday at 13 Church Street -- their second small apartment fire in less than a week.

No one was injured in Friday’s fire, said Deputy Fire Chief Richard J. Allen Sr. The fire appears accidental, but the fire investigation is continuing, said Allen, who is also a State fire investigator.

The fire occurred in the first-floor apartment of the two-family Church Street residence, Allen said.

“We had a small fire on a portable table,” Allen said. “The fire dropped down on the floor and burnt carpet on the floor.”

City firefighters were dispatched by the 911 Center, but it was unclear Friday how the fire was first discovered, Allen said.

“We got a report of a structure fire, flames showing,” he said. The smoke filled the apartment, gathering into a thick cloud that blackened the walls, Allen said.

Firefighters extinguished the fire using a pressurized water can and ran a firetruck hose line to the apartment, he said.

A tenant at the apartment told firefighters he was burning incense and believed it was out before he left the apartment

he shares with a woman and his young daughter, Allen said. The tenant now believes the incense could have started the fire, he said.

No one was home at the time of the fire, according to a witness at the scene.

“It’s lucky,” Allen said. “Everybody’s safe. All my people are safe. No injuries.”

Firefighters contacted the American Red Cross and the charity provided overnight housing for the first-floor and second-floor tenants, Allen said this morning.

There was substantial smoke damage on the first-floor and minor smoke damage on the second, he said.

One lane of Church Street was partially shut down for about a half hour while firefighters responded, increasing traffic congestion downtown as SUNY Cortland students arrived for the start of the Fall semester on Monday.

Friday’s fire was the second since a 1:30 a.m. Sunday apartment fire at 25 Prospect Terrace, Allen said. No one was injured in the fire Sunday in the unoccupied apartment, he said. That fire is considered accidental, Allen said.