Man injured in Columbia Street fire upgraded to serious condition


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A 50-year-old Utica man has been upgraded to serious condition after an early morning fire tore through his west Utica apartment.

Jeffrey Howarth is in SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse. Howarth is one of seven people living in what the city fire chief describes as a boarding house. All seven made it out of the burning house and the Utica Chapter of the American Red Cross is putting them up in local hotels.

When firefighters arrived on the scene at 914 Columbia Street on the city's west side just after 5:00 Wednesday morning, they found smoke and flames coming from the building and frigid, icy conditions.

Inside the burning house, the challenges continued.

"Obviously, when it's used as a boarding house, it's cut up and when guys are working, going through the building in the smoke and the heat and the darkness and they're feeling their way and they're expecting to go into a two and a half story framed flat and they're finding other issues, it is challenging," says Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks.

Three firefighters received minor injuries relating mostly to the icy conditions.

The fire chief says investigators expect to determine the fire's cause by next week.

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