Olbiston residents count their blessings as they return home

By CAROLINE GABLE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The first thing David Compani plans to do when he moves all his belongings back into his apartment at the Olbiston Building, is catch up on some football games.

"I'm going to kick back and watch some TV, catch up on some football games I missed," Compani said.

After a week in a shelter, Compani says he's counting his blessing to be among the first to move back in after the fire drove him out almost two weeks ago.

"It is a real relief to be able to go back in," Compani said. "We're lucky that we didn't really lose any material things, which is another blessing. It is just nice to know we will be in our own place again."

While only 35 apartment units are ready, almost 60 people have passed through the front doors at the Olbiston.

Residents are allowed to go into the building to care for their pets and slowly move items back in.

Officials hope to have ten more apartments open by the end of the day on Wednesday, and to have everyone back into the building by the end of the week.

"There's a lot of relief," said Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks. "These people have been through a lot. They've been living in the shelter for a week, sleeping on cots. They haven't had privacy, they haven't had use of laundry, their pets have been left. It has been a tough week."

Brooks also plans to make a recommendation that new security presence become long term.

Throughout the move-in process, security guards have been at the front door, and placed throughout the building.

The Utica Police Department is handling the arson case that displaced the almost 300 Olbiston residents.

They say they believe shots fired in the area just hours before the blaze may have been in connection to the fire, but they don't have evidence to prove that just yet .

The Utica Police Department says they hope to make an arrest in the investigation soon.

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