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Family member of fire victims points finger at fire department

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Understandably, some people who are close to the Santiago family killed in Monday's fire on Schuyler Street were quite emotional on Monday, and some are venting their frustrations.

The family was gathered at one end of Schuyler Street, away from the media, and some of those consoling the family are pointing fingers at the fire department for not doing more to try to save the four victims.

"They were more concerned with me telling them there were people in there than actually going to try and do something," said Wayne Smith, who said he was married to the children's grandmother. "They spent...I don't feel they had any enthusiasm. I didn't think they thought anybody was in the house, (that) it was just an abandoned house. They were treating it like it was just an old boarded up house, like it was nothing."

Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks is refuting those allegations, however. He says his department arrived on the scene within three minutes of getting the call. Chief Brooks said his crews initially went into the building immediately upon their arrival, but had to pull out because of the intensity of the flames.

"It is not uncommon for people to point fingers when there is a tragedy," Chief Brooks said. "When we initially went into the building it was obvious anyone in there was dead."

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