Dutchess County, NY -- On Thursday May 31, at 19:30, the Fairview fire department was dispatched to a reported structure fire on the grounds of the former Hudson River Psychiatric Hospital. While units were responding, Dutchess 911 advised the chief that they were getting numerous calls including several from Ulster County across the river. Fairview command arrived to find a section of the former administration building well involved in fire with sections of the roof already collapsing in. Command quickly called a 2nd alarm and 3 additional trucks to the scene. After sizing up the scene he requested a 3rd alarm and 3 additional pumper's.
The fire was in a 4 story 150' x 100' section that was connected to other large wings. Command requested several additional units from Dutchess and Ulster County because several long hose lays of 5??? hose had to be put into service. About 3 miles of 5" hose was used due to multiple lines being stretched to the fire. There are hydrants on the grounds, but because the property is vacant, all of the hydrants were not maintained.
Firefighters were on the scene all night as a contractor was brought in with machinery to knock down the building while firefighters extinguished the hot spots. The building was built 1871. A developer paid the state $2.75 million in 2005 for the sprawling, 156-acre property off Route 9 in the Town of Poughkeepsie, including the historic 19th-century administration building and other buildings on the center's former campus.
"The main challenge was access and getting water," said Tory Gallante, Fire Chief with the Fairview Fire District. Fire crews were on the scene the whole day following the fire and will continue until the building is completely torn apart and the fire is out.
The fire which could be seen for several miles as the flames shot over 100 feet in the air at times drew a large crowd of spectators. Firefighters closed a one mile section of route 9 due to the numerous hose lays. This caused a severe secondary problem of rerouting the vehicles over back roads. Several officers from the town of Poughkeepsie police and the Dutchess County Sheriffs office worked with fire police all night.
The Fairview fire department was assisted by numerous mutual aid fire departments, Alamo EMS, the town of Poughkeepsie police and the Dutchess County Sheriffs office, Dutchess County Emergency Response and 911 center, New York State fire administration, the Dutchess County chapter of the Red Cross and several other units on the scene and on standby.