Olbiston Apartments deemed "unsafe," tenants will wait to return

By ANDREW DONOVAN

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Fire Officials have released details regarding the fire that took place at Olbiston Apartments on Genesee Street early Friday morning. The fire displaced around 200 people residents, many of whom are being cared for by the American Red Cross or family members.

Fire crews responded to the report of a structure fire around 6:30 a.m. and first responders discovered heavy smoke in the front hallway. Flames were discovered at the back of the first floor, originating from an elevator shaft, according to fire officials.

Chief Fire Marshall Raymond Beck said that an immediate investigation revealed the origin was the freight elevator shaft and flames consumed the elevator shaft and wiring. Fire damage was confined to only the elevator area. Severe smoke damage existed throughout the entire building.

The investigation remains open pending interviews with residents.

The American Red Cross and Salvation Army have offered assistance to the more than 200 residents displaced. Many are staying with family or friends.

The building was posed as "unsafe" due to the extensive smoke damage and electrical circuit damage. The occupants will not be allowed to return to their apartments until the smoke odor and soot is removed, the electrical circuits have been repaired and the fire alarm is in service, according to Chief Fire Marshall Beck.

The building is owned by Rizaro Utica LLC, or Brooklyn, New York. Site manager Curt Sweden told investigators the building's owner is Robert Izsak. Sweden said he is in the process of having the building be boarded up and hiring a security company to watch the building.

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