Community responds to house fire

Teen caught in explosion in fair condition; police investigate cause

An explosion of undetermined origin caused a Delmar home to become engulfed in flames, displaced an area family and sent a teen to the hospital on Saturday, Dec. 19.

Bethlehem police were first to arrive at 151 Adams Place at about 11:45 a.m. after receiving a call from the homeowner, and officers Kenneth Beck and George Travis heard two explosions, according to police. They entered the burning structure to remove Keenan Sanchez, 15, from the basement.

Their quick arrival enabled them to save Sanchez, said Bethlehem police Lt. Thomas Heffernan.

At that point it was a heavy smoke conditions, I do not believe there were any physical flames, he said. "They just stayed down low, and they were luckily able to locate the victim and pull him out of the building They were lucky that the officers were there minutes after the first explosion, and before the structure was too heavily involved."

The Delmar Fire Department and Delmar Rescue Squad responded initially and additional fire and emergency medical services squads from within town and the surrounding municipalities were also called in.

It was determined that the building was a loss largely due to the fact toxic chemicals may have been involved. Firefighters focused on keeping the fire from spreading to nearby homes and area residents were evacuated since the cause of the explosion was unknown.

Sanchez, the police officers and two county EMTs were transported to Albany Medical Center for treatment, and Sanchez was later transferred to the Westchester Medical Center Burn Unit.

According to Westchester Medical Center spokesman David Billig, Sanchez was in "fair condition" on Monday morning, but he declined to speak further on any injuries that were sustained.

An initial investigation determined that Sanchez was in the basement when the first explosion occurred. An investigation involving the Bethlehem Police Department's Fire Investigations Unit, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Delmar Fire Department is continuing.

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