Partying college students drinking flaming shots of rum accidentally started a 15th Street fire early Thursday, officials said. The fire was first reported about 2:30 a.m. and fire department personnel and city police officers Brandon Cipperly and William O'Neil rushed into 2210 15th St. looking for residents, but were forced out by the heat and smoke from a first floor apartment.
Officer Dave Dean Jr. climbed the fire escape to the third floor, where he found two residents, who were unable to leave their apartment.
“Those people were trapped because the fire had blocked the stairs and had to evacuated down the fire escape,” said Fire Chief Thomas Garrett.
Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who live in the building were having a birthday party and drinking flaming shots of Barcardi 151 rum and lit sparklers fireworks inside their apartment which started the fire, Garrett said.
One student had locked himself into his room and either fell asleep or passed out,” Garrett said. “Other students had to go out on a porch and break the bedroom window from the outside to get him out.”
Garrett said the students tried to put the fire out themselves before calling authorities which cause it to quickly spread.
The roof collapsed during the blaze.
Residents Daniel Bautista of Smithtown and Lane Waddell of Windsor, Conn., said at the scene they were unsure if any of their belongings were spared.
As they stood outside the burned-out building, a woman approach them and offered to let them live in the furnished apartment she said she owned nearby.
Troy firefighters and other agencies that responded were able to contain the fire, but the next-door building, 2208 15th St., also suffered some damage, police said.
Cipperly was transported to Samaritan Hospital for smoke inhalation, was treated and released. Police said 11 occupants of the building, all RPI students, were able to escape without injury and RPI will provide temporary housing.
Garrett said it is unlikely anyone will be charged.
“It's considered accidental,” Garrett said.