A two-alarm fire consumed a home and salon Monday night in the Village of New Paltz, claiming the lives of five dogs and displacing at least three of the property’s residents.
The home at 5 Mulberry Street contained three apartments and was attached to Androgyny hair salon.
Alerts of the blaze came in at 9:11 p.m. to the New Paltz Fire Department, where nearly 30 firefighters were already stationed together for a meeting. The squad arrived at the scene within minutes to find the structure fully involved, Fire Chief Dave Weeks said.
“When I could see the fire, we started calling in extra help because I knew it was going to be a long-term operation,” Weeks said, adding that nearly 60 firefighters were involved.
The fire prompted outside help from nine different hose companies in the area: Gardiner, Clintondale, Milton, Rifton, Modena, Highland, Tillson, Rosendale and Esopus.
In all, New Paltz firefighter Josh Tobias said he was out on the call for nearly six hours.
“It was by no means easy to extinguish and required a great deal of work from everyone at the scene,” Tobias said. “After the fire was completely put out and all of the gear was cleaned up, most of the New Paltz firefighters got home at around 3:45 a.m.”
As of Wednesday, investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire. Weeks said the Ulster County Cause and Origin team is conducting the investigation.
The property owner, village resident Sylvia Zuniga, was not home at the time of the fire. Weeks said she had just returned from vacation upon hearing of the blaze and arrived at the scene just as firefighters were leaving.
Two of the building’s tenants were home at the time, but no injuries were reported.
“We had a report when we pulled up that there may be dogs inside,” Weeks said. “During the time we were there, we never saw any dogs. But I do know that they found some yesterday dead.”
Tuesday evening, community members expressed hopes on social media to help bury the dogs that lost their lives in the fire. According to an article from The Daily Freeman, Zuniga found the animals’ remains in her bedroom. A sixth dog was unaccounted for.
Just 19 months ago, an electrical fire damaged the same residence, Weeks said.
On Feb. 13, another fire destroyed a home just down the street at 21 Mulberry St.
Around the corner on North Chestnut Street, an STS Tire and Auto franchise was reduced to rubble by a fire on Feb 7.