Incident report and pictures by Jeff Belschwinder / Sidewinder Photography
The Latham (NY) Fire Department recently responded for a reported structure fire at 831 Loudon Rd. Cocca Travel Lodge. On arrival, the chief called immediately for a signal 30 with heavy smoke showing from the station. The chief had heavy fire blowing out the back and front of the building and had multiple guests trapped inside.
The first-arriving Latham engine 416 went to the back of the building and made multiple rescues of guests trapped on the roof after escaping their fiery rooms. Firefighters pulled two handlines to the top of the stairs to try to make a quick knock down on the fire but were not able to do so. The fire was well advanced in the attic of the building and roof area.
Firefighters made entry onto the second floor of the building and attempted to pull ceilings but ran into a major problem. As firefighters attempted to pull the ceilings to gain access to the raging fire in the attic, they encountered multiple improvements that were made to the building over the years that completely hampered their ability to gain access to the attic easily. Interior operations called for vent saws and K 12s to start cutting apart the thick, multi-layered plywood ceilings.
After the fire started to become more well developed and spread throughout the whole center part of the hotel and into one of the small sections of individual rooms, command requested the the third alarm and additional ladder companies to the scene. Engine 419 laid five-inch hose across Route 9, shutting it down the road. Firefighters went room to room, searching to make sure everyone was out of the building.
Truck 4,6,9 and 11 all set up around the building and used master streams to knock down the heavy fire in the roof area. Every time the truck companies would knock down the fire and let the command take a look, within minutes it would be puffing heavy turbulent smoke out of the roof area and quickly reignite. Firefighters mounted an aggressive interior attack, gaining access to some of the fire in the roof. However, as soon as firefighters began making, progress the other side of the roof ignited heavily in flames, and command called interior crews to exit the structure.
As soon as the crews were all out of the building, all four truck companies opened up with master streams, drowning the fire in the attic area. After that, firefighters were able to continue interior operations, and conducted heavy overhaul until the late hours of the morning. More than 200 firefighters were on scene from two counties for this fire. The fire is currently under investigation at this time no firefighters were injured on scene.
UPDATE, 10/4/2016: Following an investigation by the Town of Colonie Fire Services and the Town of Colonie Police Department, the fire at the Cocca’s Travelodge Inn, 831 Loudon Road, has been determined to be arson and a suspect has been identified.