Family Loses Everything Following Massive Park Avenue Fire

This was the root of Wajit Shah's family, a plant that one of his three daughters grew and looked at every day that used to be here -- now gone.

"They're still under the impression that we're trying to fix the house, and they haven't seen all of this rubble yet," Shah said.

It's gone, just like the other 12 other Park Avenue units that went up in flames Wednesday. Shah and his family had lived here for the last two years.

During a press conference Thursday morning, city officials say they believe the fire started on the third floor porch of unit 229. Firefighters arrived within three minutes of the first call but, because the porch was enclosed, it was able to spread quickly up to the attic. Then, they say, the wind took it from there, engulfing three buildings.

All emergency personnel were ordered out of all three structures because of the dangerous conditions inside. For hours, they battled the heat and thick smoke that could be seen and smelled for miles. What's left is a pile of rubble and a few charred belongings.

Albany officials are appealing to the public for donations and warmth to help the 25 victims.

"We'll have to try our best to see if we can rebuild over here," Shah said.

Looking at what's left, all he can do is look at the one positive: He and his family are alive.

"Everything else can be replaced, but a life cannot be," Shah said.

Firefighters say the cause of this fire is still under investigation. The fire chief says the debris will most likely stay here for the next couple of weeks, as the contractors wait for a state permit to remove everything that's left.

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